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THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 



PRESENTED BY 

PROF. CHARLES A. KOFOID AND 
MRS. PRUDENCE W. KOFOID 





BLUE JAY, (h/anura cristata. Swainson. 



ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY 



NEW ENGLAND: 



CONTAINING 



FULL DESCRIPTIONS OF THE BIRDS OF NEW ENGLAND, AND ADJOINING 

STATES AND PROVINCES, ARRANGED BY A LONG-APPROVED 

CLASSIFICATION AND NOMENCLATURE; 

TOGETHER WITH 

A COMPLETE HISTORY OF THEIR HABITS, TIMES OF ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE, 

THEIR DISTRIBUTION, FOOD, SONG, TIME OF BREEDING, AND 

A CAREFUL AND ACCURATE DESCRIPTION 

OF THEIR NESTS AND EGGS; 



JHlustrattons of mang Species of tije Biros, ano accurate JFigure* 
of tfjeir Eggs- 



BY EDWARD A. SAMUELS, 

CURATOR OF ZOOLOGY IN THE MASSACHUSETTS STATE CABINET. 



BOSTON: 
NICHOLS AND NOTES, 

117, WASHINGTON STREET. 
1867. 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867, by 

EDWARD A. SAMUELS, 
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts. 



CAMBRIDGE: 

STEREOTYPED AND PRINTED BY 
JOHN WILSON AND SON. 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

CHARACTERISTICS OF ORDERS 4 



ORDER I. RAPTORES, ROBBERS. 

Family Falconidae, Falcons '. . . 7 

Sub-Family Falconinae, Falcons proper 7 

Accipitrinae, Hawks 22 

Buteoninae, Buzzard-Hawks 34 

Aquilinae, Eagles 49 

Family Strigidse, Owls 60 

Sub-Family Buboninae, Horned Owls 60 

Syrninae, Gray Owls 71 

Nycteininae, Day Owls 77 

ORDER IL SCANSORES, CLIMBERS. 

Family Cuculidae, Cuckoos 83 

Picidae, Woodpeckers 87 

ORDER HI. INSESSORES, PERCHERS. 

Sub-Order Strisores 110 

Family Trochilidae, Humming-Birds 110 

Cypselidae, Swifts 116 

CaprimulgidaB, Goat-Suckers 119 

Sub-Order Clamatores, Screamers 125 

Family Alcedinidae, Kingfishers 125 

Colopteridse, Flycatchers 128 

Sub-Family Tyranninae, Tyrant Flycatchers 128 

Sub-Order Oscines, Singers . . . .' 

Family Turdidse, Thrushes 

Sub-Family Miminae, Mocking-Birds 

Family Saxicolidae, Rock-Inhabiters 175 

M 



fi/051888 



Vi CONTENTS. 

PACK 

Family Sylviidse, Wood-Inhabiters 178 

Paridae, Titmice 182 

Sub-Family Sittinae, Nuthatches 186 

Family Certhiadae, Creepers 190 

Troglodytidae, Wrens 192 

Sylvicolidse, Warblers 199 

Sub-Family Motacillinse, Wagtails 199 

Sylvicolinse, Wood- Warblers 201 

Tanagrinae, Tanagers 250 

Family Hirundinidae, Swallows 254 

BombycillidaB, Chatterers 264 

Laniidae, Shrikes 268 

Sub-Family Laniinae, Shrikes proper 268 

Vireoninae, Vireos 270 

Family Alaudidae, Skylarks 280 

Fringillidae, Seed-Eaters 283 

Sub-Family Coccothraustinae, Finches 283 

Spizellinae, Sparrows 301 

Passerellinae, Buntings 325 

Family Icteridae 335 

Sub-Family Agelaeinae, Starlings 335 

Icterinae, Orioles 346 

Quiscalinae, Blackbirds 350 

Family Corvidae, Crows 355 

Sub-Family Corvinae, Crows proper 355 

Garrulinae, Jays 364 



ORDER IV. RASORES, SCRATCHERS. 

Sub-Order Columbae 373 

Family Columbidae, Doves 373 

Sub-Order Gallinae, Game-Birds 378 

Family Tetraonidae, Grouse 378 

Perdicidae, Partridges 393 

ORDER V. GRALLATORES, WADERS. 

Sub-Order Herodiones 395 

Family Ardeidae, Herons 393 

Sub-Order Grallae, Shore-Birds 412 

Family Charadridas, Plovers 413 

Phalaropodidae, Phalaropes 424 

Scolopacidae, Snipes 426 



CONTENTS. vii 

PAGB 

Family Haematopodidas, Oyster-Catchers . . . 432 

Recurvirostridse, Avosets . 436 

Tribe Tringeae, Sandpipers 440 

Sub-Family Totaninse, Stilts 451 

Family Paludicolae. Swamp Inhabiters 470 

Sub-Family Rallinas, Rails 470 

ORDER VI. NATATORES, SWIMMERS. 

Sub-Order Anseres 480 

Family Anatidse 480 

Sub-Family Cygninae, Swans 480 

Anserinae, Geese 481 

Anatinae, River-Ducks 487 

Fuligulinae, Sea-Ducks 503 

Merginas, Sheldrakes 525 

Family Sulidae, Gannets 532 

Graculidae, Cormorants 534 

Laridse, Gulls 537 

Sub-Family Lestridinae, Skua-Gulls 537 

Larinas, Gulls proper 539 

Sterninae, Terns 545 

Sub-Order Gavise 552 

Family Procellaridae, Petrels 552 

Colymbidae, Divers 555 

Sub-Family Colymbinae, Loons 555 

Podicipinae, Grebes 558 

Family Alcidae 564 

Sub-Family Alcinae, Auks 56 

Urinse, Guillemots 567 



ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



INTRODUCTION. 

AS I have generally adopted, in the present volume, the 
system of classification, and the nomenclature, <fcc., 
presented by Professor Baird in his report on the Birds of 
North America, I will state here, that I have given, so far 
as possible, his own remarks in the explanations of the 
characteristics of the different orders, families, genera, &c., 
because they are expressed in the most 'concise and com- 
prehensive language possible. I have also given the same 
descriptions of the species as those contained in the above- 
mentioned report, because, being made from a much greater 
number of specimens than I could possibly have access 
to, they are certainly better than I could present from 
my own observations. The descriptions of the character- 
istics of the Raptores, the Grallce, and the Alcidce, are by 
John Cassin, of Philadelphia; those of the Longipennes 
Totipalmes and Colymbidce were written by Mr. George N. 
Lawrence, of New York; those of the other birds were 
prepared by Professor Spencer P. Baird, of the Smithsonian 
Institute. 

In order that the descriptions of the birds in the follow- 

[1] 



INTRODUCTION. 



ing pages may be perfectly understood, I give the subjoined 
cuts, illustrating and explaining them : 




H G 



F E D C B 



A represents the primary quills, usually called primaries. 

B represents the secondary quills, usually called secondaries. 

C spurious wing. 

D wing coverts. 

E tertiary quills, usually called tertiaries. 

F represents the throat. 

G is the upper part of the throat, called the jugulum. 

H is the bill or beak : this is divided into two parts, called the upper 

and lower mandibles.' 
I is the frons, or forehead: feathers at this point are called frontal 

feathers. 

J is the crown : feathers here are called coronal feathers, and occipital. 
K represents the scapular feathers. 

L is the back : feathers here are sometimes called interscapular. 
M represents the tarsus : called shank or leg sometimes. 
N is the abdomen. 
O is the rump. 

P shows the upper tail coverts. 
Q indicates the position of the lower tail coverts. 



INTRODUCTION. 

R shows on the bill the culmen, or crown, of the 
upper mandible. 




S is the naked skin at the base of the bill, 

called the cere. 
T shows the position of the lores between the V --' 

eye and bill. 
U indicates the gape, the angle at the junction of the upper and lower 

mandibles : the feathers in this locality are called rictal. 
V is the commissure, or the folding edges of the mandibles. 

In addition to these parts, there are the flanks or sides 
of the bird ; the pectus, or breast ; the flexure, or bend of 
the wing ; the iris, or irides, the colored circle which sur- 
rounds the pupil of the eye ; and the toes and tibia : the 
former are sometimes palmated, as with the swimmers, or 
natatores ; and the latter is that portion next above the 
tarsus on the leg. 



SYNOPSIS 



OF THE 



CHARACTERISTICS OF NORTH-AMERICAN BIRDS. 



THE following synopsis of the orders of birds, taken 
partly from Keyserling and Blasius, will serve to illus- 
trate the characteristics of the higher groups in American 
Ornithology : 

A. HIND TOE ON THE SAME LEVEL WITH THE ANTERIOR 

ONES. 

a. Posterior face or the sides of the tarsus more or less reticu- 
lated, granulated, or with scales more numerous or smaller than 
in front ; sometimes naked. Anterior face of the tarsus never in 
one unbroken plate. Larynx without complex vocal muscles. 

Order I. RAPTORES. Base of the upper mandible with a 
soft skin or cere. Upper mandible compressed ; its point curving 
down over that of the lower, forming a strong, sharp hook. Claws 
generally retractile. Toes, never two behind. Birds usually of 
large size and of powerful frame, embracing the so-called birds 
of prey. 

Order II. SCANSORES. Toes in pairs ; two in front and two 
behind : the outer anterior being usually directed backwards ; the 
inner, in Trogonida. Tail-feathers eight to twelve. 

Order III. STRISORES. Toes either three anterior and one 
behind (or lateral), or four anterior : the hinder one is, however, 
usually versatile, or capable of direction more or less laterally for- 
ward. Tail-feathers never more than ten. Primaries always ten ; 
the first, long. 

w 



SYNOPSIS OF THE 5 

Order IV. CLAMATORES. Toes, three anterior and one pos- 
terior (not versatile). Primaries always ten; the first nearly as 
long as the second. Tail-feathers usually twelve. 

b. Anterior face of the tarsus in one continuous plate, or divided 
transversely into large quadrate scales. Plates on either the pos- 
terior surface of the tarsus or the sides, without subdivisions, never 
both divided together : when divided, the divisions correspond 
with the anterior ones. Larynx with peculiar complex' singing 
muscles. 

Order V. OSCINES. Toes, three anterior, one posterior. 
Primaries, either nine only ; or, if ten, the first usually short or 
spurious. 

B. HIND TOE RAISED ABOVE THE LEVEL OP THE REST. 

Order VI. RASORES. Nostrils arched over by an incumbent 
thick, fleshy valve. Bill not longer than the head, obtuse anteri- 
orly. Nails broad, obtusely rounded. 

Order VII. GRALLATORES. Legs lengthened, adapted for 
walking, naked above the knee. Nostrils naked. Thighs usually 
quite free from the body. Toes not connected by a membrane, or 
for a short distance only ; sometimes with a lobed margin. 

Order VIII. NATATORES. Adapted for swimming. Legs 
generally short. Toes united by a continuous membrane. Thighs 
mostly buried in the muscles of the body. 



CHARACTERISTICS OF NORTH-AMERICAN BIRDS. 



ORDER L RAPTORES. ROBBERS. 

The peculiarities already given of the order Eaptores are 
sufficient to define it among the others mentioned, although 
many additional features might be named. The order em- 
braces three families, which are characterized by Keyserling 
and Blasius as follows : 

A. DIURNAL BIRDS OP PREY. 

Eyes lateral, with lashes, surrounded by a naked or woolly orbi- 
tal circle ; the feathers above, below, and behind the eyes directed 
backwards, as on the rest of the head ; anterior to the eye, the lore 
imperfectly clothed with a radiating star of bristles, or with scale- 
like feathers. The inner toe without the nail, shorter, or as long 
as the outer. Nostrils opening in the cere. 

VULTDRID^E. Bill contracted or indented on the anterior 
border of the cere, so that the culmen is bow-shaped, or ascending 
anterior to it. Eyes lying on a level with the sides of the head. 
Head sparsely covered with downy feathers only, or partially 
naked. Claws weak, rather slender, and only moderately curved ; 
the tarsi and bases of the toes reticulated. 

FALCONID^E. The bill not contracted, nor the culmen ascend- 
ing anterior to the cere. Eyes sunken. The head completely 
covered with compact, perfect feathers. Claws strong. 

B. NOCTURNAL BIRDS OF PREY. 

STRIGID.E. Eyes directed forwards ; more or less completely 
surrounded by a crown of radiating bristly feathers. Lores and 
base of bill densely covered with bristly feathers directed forwards. 
The nostrils opening on the anterior edge of the cere. The inner 
toe without its claw longer than the outer, which is versatile. A 
crown of peculiarly formed feathers on the side of the head and 
above the throat Head fully feathered. Plumage very soft 
and downy. 



GREAT-FOOTED HAWK. 7 

FAMILY FALCONIDJE. ' 
Sub-Family FALCONING. The Falcons. 

FALCO, LINNJEUS. 

Fako, LINNAEUS, Syst. Nat. I. 124 (1766). 

General form robust and compact. Bill short, curved strongly from the base to 
the point, which is very sharp, and near which is a distinct and generally prominent 
tooth; nostrils circular, with a central tubercle; wings long, pointed, formed for 
vigorous, rapid, and long-continued flight; tail rather long and wide; tarsi short, 
robust, covered with circular or hexagonal scales; middle toe long; claws large, 
strong, curved, and very sharp. 

FALCO ANATUM. Bonaparte. 
The Duck Hawk ; Great-Footed Hawk. 

Falco anatum, Bonap. Comp. List, p. 4 (1838). 

" Falco peregrinus" Wilson, Audubon, and other authors. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Adult. Frontal band white ; entire upper parts bluish-cinereous, with trans- 
verse bands of brownish-black, lighter on the rump ; under parts yellowish-white, 
with cordate and circular spots of black on the breast and abdomen, and transverse 
bands of black on the sides, under tail coverts, and tibiae ; quills and tail brownish- 
black, the latter with transverse bars of pale cinereous; cheeks with a patch of 
black; bill light-blue; tarsi and toes yellow Sexes alike. 

Younger. Entire upper parts brownish-black; frontal spot obscure; large 
space on the cheeks black; under parts dull yellowish -white, darker than in adult, 
and with longitudinal stripes of brownish-black; tarsi and toes bluish-lead color, 
iris hazel. 

Total length, eighteen to twenty inches; wing, fourteen to fifteen; tail, seven 
to eight inches. 1 

I REGRET that I am unable to add, from my own knowl- 
edge, any facts in relation to the habits of this bird, to 
what we already possess. It is nowhere a common species, 
and I have had no opportunities of observing and studying 
its characteristics. It seems to be a resident of New Eng- 
land throughout the year, and is oftener found in the neigh- 
borhood of the sea-coast than in the interior. It is a 
powerful bird, of rapid flight and great boldness and cour- 

1 See Introduction. 



8 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

age, and is the terror of the water-fowl, which constitute the 
greater portion of its prey. The breeding season of this 
species is very early. It commences building the nest 
usually on an inaccessible cliff, by the first of April. This 
is constructed of twigs, grasses, and sometimes seaweeds. 
The eggs are from two to four in number : their form is 
almost spherical, and their color is of a reddish-brown, 
covered with numerous minute spots and blotches of a 
darker shade. The dimensions of the only two specimens 
accessible to me at present are 1.90 inch in length by 1.75 
in breadth, and 1.85 inch in length by 1.72 inch in breadth. 
The following extracts from the writings of different 
authors comprise the most interesting observations made 
of this species : 

" The flight of this bird is of astonishing rapidity. It is scarcely 
ever seen sailing, unless after being disappointed in its attempt to 
secure the prey which it had been pursuing; and even at such 
times it merely rises, with a broad spiral circuit, to attain a suffi- 
cient elevation to enable it to reconnoitre a certain space below. It 
then emits a cry much resembling that of the sparrow-hawk, but 
greatly louder, like that of the European kestrel, and flies off 
swiftly in quest of plunder. The search is often performed with a 
flight resembling that of the tame pigeon, until, perceiving an object, 
it redoubles its flappings, and pursues the fugitive with a rapidity 
scarcely to be conceived. Its turnings, windings, and cuttings 
through the air, are now surprising. It follows and nears the 
timorous quarry at every turn and back-cutting which the latter 
attempts. Arrived within a few feet of the prey, the Falcon is 
seen protruding his powerful legs and talons to their full stretch. 
His wings are, for a moment, almost closed ; the next instant, he 
grapples the prize, which, if too weighty to be carried off directly, 
he forces obliquely toward the ground, sometimes a hundred yards 
from where it was seized, to kill it, and devour it on the spot. 
Should this happen over a large extent of water, the Falcon drops 
his prey, and sets off in quest of another. On the contrary, should 
it not prove too heavy, the exulting bird carries it off to a seques- 
tered and secure place. He pursues the smaller ducks, water-hens, 



GREAT-FOOTED HAWK. 9 

and other swimming birds ; and, if they are not quick in diving, 
seizes them, and rises with them from the water. I have seen this 
hawk come at the report of a gun, and carry off a teal, not thirty 
steps distant from the sportsman who had killed it, with a daring 
assurance as surprising as unexpected. This conduct has been 
observed by many individuals, and is a characteristic trait of the 
species. The largest bird that I have seen this hawk attack and 
grapple with on the wing is the Mallard. 

"The Great-footed Hawk does not, however* content himself 
with waterfowl. He is generally seen following the flocks of 
pigeons, and even blackbirds, causing great terror in their ranks, 
and forcing them to perform aerial evolutions to escape the grasp 
of his dreaded talons. For several days, I watched one of them 
that had taken a particular fancy to some tame pigeons, to secure 
which it went so far as to enter their house at one of the holes, 
seize a bird, and issue by another hole in an instant, causing such 
terror among the rest as to render me fearful that they would 
abandon the place. However, I fortunately shot the depredator. 

" They occasionally feed on dead fish, that have floated to the 
shores or sand-bars. I saw several of them thus occupied, while 
descending the Mississippi on a journey undertaken expressly for 
the purpose of observing and procuring different specimens of 
birds, and which lasted four months, as I followed the windings 
of that great river, floating down it only a few miles daily. During 
that period, I and my companion counted upwards of fifty of these 
hawks, and killed several ; one of which was found to contain in its 
stomach bones of birds, a few downy feathers, the gizzard of a teal, 
and the eyes and many scales of a fish. 

" Whilst in quest of food, the Great-footed Hawk will frequently 
alight on the highest dead branch of a tree, in the immediate neigh- 
borhood of such wet or marshy ground as the common snipe resorts 
to by preference. His head is seen moving in short starts, as if he 
were counting every little space below ; and, while so engaged, the 
moment he espies a snipe, down he darts like an arrow, making a 
rustling noise with his wings, that may be heard several hundred 
yards off, seizes the snipe, and flies away to some near wood to 
devour it. 

" It is a cleanly bird, in respect to feeding. No sooner is the 
prey dead, than the Falcon turns it belly upwards, and begins to 



10 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

pluck it with his bill, which he does very expertly, holding it mean- 
time quite fast in his talons ; and, as soon as a portion is cleared of 
feathers, tears the flesh in large pieces, and swallows it with great 
avidity. 

" If it is a large bird, he leaves the refuse parts ; but, if small, 
swallows the whole in pieces. Should he be approached by an 
enemy, he rises with it, and flies off into the interior of the woods ; 
or, if he happens to be in a meadow, to some considerable distance, 
he being more wary at such times than when he has alighted on a 
tree." AUDUBON. 

The following very complete description of the breeding 
habits of the Great-footed Hawk is from the pen of J. A. 
Allen, of Springfield, Mass., one of our most enthusiastic 
students, published in the " Proceedings of the Essex Insti- 
tute," vol. IV. : - 

" All accounts agree that the nest is placed on almost inaccessible 
cliffs ; and often it can only be approached by a person being let 
down by a rope from above. The old birds are represented as bold 
in the defence of their nest, approaching so near as generally to be 
easily shot. They arrive early at their nesting-place ; and, though 
they often bestow no labor in the construction of a nest, beyond the 
scraping of a slight hollow in the ground, they defend their chosen 
eyrie for weeks before the eggs are laid, and are known to return 
for several years to the same site. Incubation commences very 
early, the young having been found in the nest at Mount Tom, May 
30, nearly fledged, 1 and on Talcott Mountain, in the same condi- 
tion, June 1 ; so that the laying of the eggs must occur by the last 
of March, or very early in April. The number of eggs has been 
known in several instances to be four. 

" Mountains Tom and Holyoke, in Massachusetts, afford several 
localities favorable for the nidification of the Duck Hawk; and 
sometimes several pairs, and probably usually more than one, breed 
about these mountains. 2 About the last of May, 1863, Mr. Bennett 

1 According to R. B. Hildreth, Esq., of Springfield, who visited this nest May 
80, 1861, and noted the fact. The nest on Talcott Mountain, Conn., was found the 
same season, and first visited only a few days later, about June 1, 1861. 

2 Since the above was written, I have been informed by Mr. Bennett, that a 
pair of these hawks actually raised their young on Mount Tom in the summer of 
1864, notwithstanding one pair was broken up the same season. 



GREAT-FOOTED HAWK. H 

saw five adult birds of this species about Mount Tom. Dr. W. 
Wood, of East- Windsor Hill, Conn., informs me, that two pairs of 
Duck Hawks were evidently breeding on Talcott Mountain in the 
summer of 1863. 

" Discovery of the Eggs on Mount Tom. Although the Duck 
Hawk has been long known to breed at the localities in Massachu- 
setts mentioned above, those conversant with the fact were not 
aware that any special interest was attached to it, or that its eggs 
and breeding habits were but very little known to ornithologists ; 
and so, until very recently, no particular efforts have been made to 
obtain the eggs. Mr. Bennett, becoming aware of this, resolved 
to procure the eggs. He accordingly visited Mount Tom for this 
purpose, April 7, of the present year, when he searched the whole 
ridge of the mountain, discovered the old birds, and the particular 
part they most frequented, and also the site of a nest where young 
had been raised. The old birds were continually near this spot, 
and manifested much solicitude when it was approached, often 
flying within six or eight rods ; and once the female came within 
three, screaming and thrusting out her talons with an expression of 
great rage and fierceness. The birds did not appear at all shy, 
being easily approached quite near to ; though, in walking, the crack- 
ing of sticks and the clinking of the splinters of trap-rock made no 
little noise. One of the birds appeared to keep close to the eyrie ; 
and both would approach whenever it was visited, screaming at and 
menacing the intruder,' notwithstanding that at that time there were 
no eggs, as was afterwards proved. Mr. Bennett, suspecting that 
incubation had already commenced, visited the locality again on the 
9th, but only saw the old nest ; the birds behaving as before. On 
April 19, ten days later, he made another visit; and creeping 
carefully to the summit of the cliff, at a point near the eyrie 
already spoken of, he saw the female, on looking over the cliff, 
sitting on the nest, and but five or six yards distant. She eyed him 
fiercely for an instant, and then, scrambling from the nest to the 
edge of the narrow shelf supporting it, launched into the air : in a 
twinkling, Mr. Bennett's unerring aim sent her tumbling dead at 
the foot of the precipice, several hundred feet below. The nest 
contained four eggs, which were soon safely secured, and the body 
of the female was obtained from the foot of the cliff. The male, 
soon coming about, was shot at ; but he was too shy to come within 



12 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

range, except once, while the gun was being reloaded. The eggs 
were all laid after Mr. Bennett's visit, April 9 ; and their contents 
showed, April 19, that they had been incubated but a day or two. 
Incubation seems, in this case, to have commenced several weeks 
later than usual, which may be owing to the late snows and unusual 
coldness of the weather this year, during the first half of April. 

" Location and Description of the Eyrie. The situation of the 
eyrie was near the highest part of the mountain, about one-third of 
the length of the mountain from the south end, on a narrow shelf 
in the rock, eight or ten feet from the top of a nearly perpendicular 
cliff, one hundred and fifty or two hundred feet in height, and was 
inaccessible except to a bold climber, and at one particular point. 
The nest was merely a slight excavation, sufficient to contain the 
eggs : no accessory material had been added. The site had been 
previously occupied, and probably for several years ; and, for weeks 
before the eggs were laid, was carefully guarded by the bold and 
watchful birds. 

" Description of the Eggs. The eggs, four in number, as already 
stated, differ greatly both in shape and coloring ; the extremes in 
either being widely diverse. They are described in detail, and 
probably in the same order as laid. 

"No. 1. Longer diameter, 2.18 inches; shorter diameter, 1.71 
inches: the shorter diameter is .885 the longer. The form is 
somewhat ovoid, one end being slightly larger than the other ; but 
neither end is very pointed: the point of greatest transverse 
diameter is .645 the length of the egg from the smallest end. In 
form, this egg is very nearly like the egg from Greenland, figured 
by Dr. Brewer in the * North- American Oology ' (pt. I. plate II. 
fig. 11). The general color is chocolate-brown, darker and more 
dense and uniform about the ends, the part about the middle being 
lighter, varied with small irregular blotches and specks of a darker 
tint than the ground-color. The color of the smaller end is nearly 
a uniform dull-red ochre. There is also an irregular belt of scat- 
tered and apparently very superficial blotches of very dark brown, 
or nearly black. Something similar is often noticed on the eggs 
of many birds that lay brown or speckled eggs. 

"No. 2. Longer diameter, 2.21 inches; shorter diameter, 1.67 
inches : shorter diameter, .755 the longer. Form, nearly an ellip- 
soid, the point of greatest transverse diameter being scarcely to 



GREAT-FOOTED HAWK. 13 

one side of the middle (.54 the length of the egg from the smaller 
end) ; ends very nearly equal, and not very pointed. The distri- 
bution of the color in this is nearest of any of the four eggs 
before me to that figured by Dr. Brewer, and only differs from it 
in tint. One end (the smaller ?) is very light reddish, or reddish- 
white, becoming lighter from the middle towards this end, about 
which it is the lightest, and thinly marked with irregular mottlings 
of dark reddish chocolate, which present a very superficial grayish 
tinge that is very characteristic ; the other end (the larger ?) is of 
a uniform dark ferruginous-brown or dull-red ochre, varied towards 
the middle by the appearance of the light ground-color between 
the there scarcely confluent blotches of dark-brown that give the 
uniform deep tint towards and about this end. 

" No. 3. Longer diameter, 2.32 inches ; shorter diameter, 1.70 
inches : shorter diameter, .733 the longer. Form ovoid, the 
smaller end elongated and much pointed. This egg is the longest, 
and much larger in proportion to its diameter than either of the 
others. The point of greatest diameter is .656 the length of 
the egg from the smaller end. In this specimen, the contrast 
between the ground-color and the markings becomes very strong : 
the ground-color, which is seen chiefly in a broad band about the 
middle of the egg, being white or reddish-white ; and the markings 
very dark reddish-brown, nearly approaching purple, and are quite 
uniformly distributed in blotches of various sizes, the largest being 
near the larger end of the egg : the sub-markings are of a lighter 
reddish-brown, and are more blended. 

"No. 4. Longer diameter, 2.16 inches; shorter diameter, 1.65 
inches: shorter diameter, .765 the longer. Form regular ovoid, 
the smaller end rather more pointed than the same in No. 1 ; point 
of greatest transverse diameter .60 the length of the egg from the 
smaller end. In this specimen, the contrast of the ground-color 
with the markings is very striking, especially when compared with 
specimens No. 1 and No. 2 ; and the most peculiar part is, that the 
greater end of the egg, which in the eggs of most birds is the end 
usually most subject to markings and to the greatest depth of color, 
is white, sprinkled sparingly with reddish specks, while the smaller 
end is deep, bright brick-red, here and there relieved by small 
specks and patches of white ground-color. About the middle of 
the egg, the colors are in more equal proportions ; the white patches 



14 



ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



becoming larger on the smaller end towards the middle, and the 
red patches on the larger end increase towards the same point, 
where the colors meet and become mixed in irregular patches of 
various sizes, from mere dots to blotches. The smaller end has a 
few streaks and blotches of dark-purple overlying apparently the 
other colors, as in specimen No. 1. 

" These specimens are very interesting, as indicating the great 
amount of variation to which the American Peregrine's eg2;s are 
subject ; and especially so since they are all the product of one pair 
of birds, laid in one set, and identified as such beyond question. 
In coloration, a transition can be traced between the extreme in the 
order they are numbered, which is undoubtedly the order in which 
they were laid, as indicated by the thickness of the shell as well as 
by the depth of color. 

TABLE OF COMPARATIVE MEASUREMENTS. 

Prop, of breadth Point of greatest transverse 
Length. 

No. 1 2.18 in. 

No. 2 2.21 

No. 3 2.32 

No. 4 2.16 

Average 2.22 

Greater extreme . . . 2.32 

Lesser extreme . . . 2.16 

Amount of variation . 0.16 

Dr. Brewer's specimen . 2.00 

" From the above table, it will be seen that the range of varia- 
tion in the four specimens in length is .16 of an inch, or nearly 
seven and a half per cent of the average length; in breadth, .06 
of an inch, or about three and a half per cent of the average 
breadth : in the proportion of breadth to length, about fifteen per 
cent of the length, or nearly twenty per cent of the average pro- 
portion. The variation in the position of the point of* greatest 
transverse diameter is about eleven and a half per cent of the 
whole length of the egg ; the form of the eggs varying from an 
ellipsoid in No. 2 to an ovoid, which, in No. 3, has the smaller end 
considerably elongated. It will be observed that the egg meas- 
ured by Dr. Brewer is considerably smaller than my Smallest 
^.rrimen, and that the proportion of breadth to length scarcely 
differs from the same proportion in No. 1. 



Breadth. 


to length. diameter from small end. 


1.71 in. 


0.785 in. 0.640 length of the egg. 


1.67. 


0.756, 0.540 


1.70 


0.732 


, 0.656 


1.65 


0.765 


, 0.600 


1.68 


0.759 


, 0.609 


1.71 


0.785 


- 656 


1.65 


0.732 


0.540 


0.06 


0.053 


. ' 116 


1.66 


0.780 


, 



GREATrFOOTED HAWK. 15 

" In comparing the eggs of the American and the European 
Peregrine Falcons, Dr. Brewer observes: 'It [the American] 
closely resembles a variety of the eggs of the European species, 
but seems to present differences sufficiently well marked to be 
regarded as specific. . . . The ground-colors of both American and 
European are a reddish-yellow ; and both are thickly covered with 
fine dottings of chocolate and ferruginous brown, diffused over the 
whole egg in nearly equal degree, and to such an extent as nearly 
to conceal the ground. The length of the American egg is slightly 
less ; but it is of equal or greater capacity, and varies in its mark- 
ings from all the European specimens that I have ever met with. 
These variations, though readily traceable by the eye, are not so 
easily described. The shades of coloring in both are closely alike : 
the variation consists more in the distribution of these markings. In 
the European specimens, the fine markings of chocolate are distri- 
buted with nearly exact uniformity. In the American, the secondary 
colorings are now more thickly and now more thinly diffused, here 
leaving the ground-color nearly unchanged ; there becoming con- 
fluent, and blending into waving lines, blotches, and bold dashes. 
The egg, in consequence, presents a more varied appearance. These 
markings are also in greater proportion around the larger end of the 
egg, and the blotches are of a deeper shade*; so there is a variation 
in the shading between the smaller and larger extremities not no- 
ticeable in any European egg that I have met with/ 

" The amount of variation presented by the eggs of the Duck 
Hawk, described above, shows that but little dependence can be 
placed on the eggs in deciding specific differences. The eggs men- 
tioned by Dr. Brewer are not much different from those of the 
true European Peregrine. One or two of the specimens before 
me considerably resemble Dr. Brewer's, and likewise eggs of the 
European species, as figured and described by authors, while 
the others are very different, one being remarkably so. 

"The eggs of the different species of this group of Falcons 
seem to resemble each other greatly, and to be subject to consider- 
able variation in the same species. In the manner of laying the 
eggs, there is also a similarity, as might be expected among closely 
allied species ; the same species sometimes laying them on the bare 
rocks, and again in a bulky nest of sticks and other coarse materi- 
als. The nest of this species visited on Talcott Mountain, Conn., 



16 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

was of the latter kind ; while on Mount Holyoke the eggs were 
laid on the bare earth. 

" Audubon thus describes the nest and eggs of the Duck Hawk, 
as observed by him at Labrador : 

'"I have nowhere seen it so abundant as along the high, rocky shores of 
Labrador and Newfoundland, where I procured several adult individuals 
of both sexes, as well as some eggs and young. The nests were placed on 
the shelves of rocks, a few feet from the top, and were flat, and rudely con-, 
structed of sticks and moss. In some were found four eggs, in others only 
two, and in one five. In one nest only a single young bird was found. The 
eggs vary considerably in color and size, which, I think, is owing to a differ- 
ence of age in the females ; the eggs of young birds being smaller. The 
average length of four was two inches, their breadth one and five-eighths. 
They are somewhat rounded, though larger at one end than the other ; their 
general and most common color is a reddish or rusty yellowish-brown, 
spotted and confusedly marked with darker tints of the same, here and there 
intermixed with lighter. The young are at first thickly covered with soft 
white down. ... In several instances, we found these falcons breeding on 
the same ledge with cormorants, Phalacrocorax carbo.' " * 

" Audubon adds that he is perfectly convinced that the Great- 
footed Falcon, or Duck Hawk of the later ornithologists, is not 
different from the Peregrine Falcon of Europe. * Since my first 
acquaintance with this species,' he says, * I have observed nothing 
in its habits, form, or marking on one continent that is different 
from what is found on the other.' Since the difference in breeding 
habits supposed to exist when Bonaparte separated them in 1838, 
and which influenced his judgment in the matter, has been found 
to be not real, there seems to be nothing whatever in the breeding 
habits or in the appearance of the eggs to indicate specific differ- 
ence between the American and European birds." 

HYPOTRIORCHIS COLUMBARIUS. Gray. 

The Pigeon Hawk. 

Falco columbarius, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat , I. 128 (1766). 
Falco intermixing, Daudin. Traite d'Orn., II. 141 (1800). 
Falco temerarius, Audubon. Orn. Biog.. I. 381 (1831). 
Falco Auduboni. Blackwall, Researches, Zool., 1834. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Adult Male. Entire upper parts bluish-slate color, every feather with a black 
longitudinal line; forehead and throat white; other under parts pale yellowish or 

1 Orn. Biog., vol. V. p. 366. 



THE PIGEON HAWK. 17 

reddish white; every feather with a longitudinal line of brownish-black; tibige light 
ferruginous, with lines of black ; quills black, tipped with ashy white ; tail light-bluish 
ashy, tipped with white and with a wide subterminal band of black, and with 
several other transverse narrower bands of black ; inner webs nearly white ; cere 
and legs yellow; bill blue. 

Younger. Entire upper plumage dusky-brown, quite light in some specimens, 
and with a tinge of ashy; head above, with narrow stripes of dark brown and ferru- 
ginous, and in some specimens many irregular spots and edgings of the latter color 
on the other upper parts; forehead and entire under parts dull-white, the latter 
A\ ith longitudinal stripes of light-brown ; sides and flanks light-brown, with pairs of 
circular spots of white ; tibiae dull white, with dashes of brown ; tail pale-brown, 
with about six transverse bands of white ; cere and legs greenish-yellow. 

Young Upper plumage brownish-black, white of the forehead and under parts 
more deeply tinged with reddish-yellow; dark stripes wider than the preceding; 
sides and flanks with wide transverse bands of brownish-black, and with circular 
spots of yellowish-white ; quills black ; tail brownish-black, tipped with white, and 
with about four bands of white; cere and feet greenish-yellow; iris dark-hazel. 

Total length, female twelve to fourteen inches; wing, eight to nine inches; tail, 
five to five and a half inches. Male, total length, ten to eleven inches; wing, seven 
and a half to eight inches ; tail, five inches. 

This species is a pretty common spring and fall visitor in 
all the New-England States, and is sometimes a resident 
in the southern sections of these. States through the winter; 
specimens being occasionally taken as late as January, in 
mild seasons. This bird is one of the most destructive of 
our rapacia : he kills all the smaller birds, robins, black- 
birds, sparrows in great numbers, and even attacks the 
wild pigeon and dove, which he is almost always able to 
overtake and capture, as he is possessed of very great 
rapidity of flight. I have seen one of these hawks make a 
pounce at a sparrow that was singing on a low bush ; and 
the bird happily eluding his clutch, as quick as a flash of 
light, he turned, and pursued and captured a robin that had 
taken flight at his first appearance, and was already quite a 
considerable distance off: as the robin is well known to 
have great speed of flight, this circumstance well illustrates 
the velocity of this hawk. 

The flight of the bird consists of a series of flaps of the 
wings, with but a very few intervals of soaring : in pursuing 
the wild pigeon, the strokes of the wings of the two birds 
are nearly simultaneous. As he strikes his prey, he almost 

2 



18 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

always, instead of clutching it as it falls, alights after it has 
fallen, in the same manner as the Great-footed Hawk. I 
have noticed the same fact with the Red-tailed Hawk ; the 
victim seems to fall dead, or, at any rate, perfectly incapable 
of motion : whether this is the result of a kind of mesmer- 
ism, as it were, similar to the influence of the cats on their 
prey, or the hawk transfixes his quarry through the vitals, I 
am unable to say. 

The Pigeon Hawk, in alighting on a branch or other 

object, always descends below the level of it, and rises up ; 

and usually turns abruptly about, and faces the direction 

. from which it came, as soon as it has struck its perch. 

This habit is observable in many of the other hawks. 

While perching, the tail is often flirted up and down, 
and the wings are partially opened and shut in a nervous 
manner, as if the bird were anxious to be off again in the 
pursuit of game. 

It is not improbable t^at it breeds in New England, 
although I do not remember of an authenticated instance. 
I have no egg of this bird in my collection, and have never 
met with its nest. There seems considerable confusion 
regarding this species, both as to its nesting-place and its 
eggs. Mr. Hutchins says (" Fauna Borcali Americana," 
II. 36) it " makes its nest on rocks and in hollow trees, 
of sticks and grass, lined with feathers ; laying from two to 
four white eggs, marked with red spots." Audubon, in 
describing the eggs, says (" Birds of America ") : " Mr. 
Hutchins's description of the eggs of this bird is greatly 
at variance with my own observations. The eggs, in three 
instances which occurred at Labrador, were five ; they 
measured an inch and three-quarters in length, an inch and 
a quarter in breadth, and were rather elongated; their 
ground-color a dull yellowish-brown, thickly clouded with 
irregular blotches of dull, dark reddish-brown." Dr. 
Brewer says (" Synopsis of Birds of North America," as 
an appendix to Wilson's u Ornithology ") it " nests in low 



PLATE I. 








Fig. 1. Pigeon Hawk, Hypotriorchis columbarius. Gray. 

,, 2. Sparrow Hawk, Tinnunculus sparverius. Vieillot. 

,, 3. Sharp-shinned Hawk, Accipiterfuscus. Bonaparte. 

,, 4. Red-shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus. Jardine. 

., 5. Broad-winged Hawk, Buteo Pennsylvanicus. Bonaparte. 



THE SPARROW HAWK. 19 

fir-trees, twelve feet from the ground; eggs three, dull 
yellowish-brown, with dark reddish-brown blotches." 

A single egg before me, kindly loaned for descriptions 
and figure by George A. Boardman of Milltown, Me., is of 
the above color. It is admirably figured, fig. 1, plate I., 
in this volume. It is a trifle more pointed than the eggs 
of rapacious birds usitally are, and measures 1.50 inch in 
length, and 1.14 inch at its greatest breadth. 

TINNUNCULUS SPARVERIUS. Vieilkt. 
The Sparrow Hawk. 

Falco sparverius, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. 128 (1766). 

Falco dominicenses, Gm. Syst. Nat., I. 285 (1788). 

Falco gracilis, cinnamoninus, and isabellinus. Sw. Cab. Cy., p. 281 (1838). 

DESCRIPTION. 

Adult. Frontal band and space, including the eyes and throat, white ; spot on 
the neck behind, two others on each side of the neck, and line running downwards 
from before the eye, black ; spot on the top of the head, the neck behind, back, 
rump and tail, light rufous or cinnamon color; under parts generally a paler shade 
of the same rufous as the back, frequently nearly white, but sometimes as dark as 
the upper parts, and always with more or less numerous circular or oblong spots of 
black ; quills brownish-black, w,ith white bars on their inner webs ; tail tipped with 
white, frequently tinged with rufous, and with a broad subterminal band of black, 
outer frequently white, tinged with ashy, and barred with black; bill light-blue; 
legs yellow ; back generally with transverse stripes of black, but frequently with 
very few, or entirely without ; rufous spot on the head, variable in size, and some- 
times wanting. 

Younger Male. Upper parts as above ; wing coverts and tail ferruginous red, 
with numerous transverse bands of brownish-black; under parts with numerous 
longitudinal stripes, and on the sides with transverse bands of brownish-black; 
external feathers of the tail palest ; broad subterminal band on the tail, obscure or 
wanting. 

Young. All the rufous parts of the plumage with wider transverse bands of 
brownish-black; wing coverts, dark bluish-cinereous, with large circular spots 
of black ; under parts with longitudinal stripes, and large circular spots of black ; 
iris very dark hazel. 

Tofal length, eleven to twelve inches ; wing, seven to seven and a half; tail, five 
to five and a half inches. 

This beautiful little hawk is a summer inhabitant of all 
the New-England States, and, in the more southern districts, 
a resident throughout the year. It is a not very common 
species, hardly a half-dozen birds being seen in these States 



20 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY, 

i 

by a student through the year, no matter how enthusiastic 
he may be. I can add nothing to Wilson's description that 
will be of interest : it is as follows : 




" The habits and manners of this bird are well known. It flies 
rather irregularly, occasionally suspending itself in the air, hover- 
ing over a particular spot for a minute or two, and then shooting 
off in another direction. It perches on the top of a dead tree or 
pole, in the middle of a field or meadow, and, as it alights, shuts its 
long wings so suddenly that they seem instantly to disappear: it 
sits here in an almost perpendicular position, sometimes for an hour 
at a time, frequently jerking its tail, and reconnoitring the ground 
below, in every direction, for mice, lizards, &c. It approaches the 
farmhouse, particularly in the morning, skulking about the barn- 
yard for mice or young chickens. It frequently plunges into 
a thicket after small birds, as if by random, but always with a 
particular, and generally a fatal aim. One day I observed a bird 
of this species perched on the highest top of a large poplar, on 
the skirts of the wood, and was in the 'act of raising the gun to 
my eye, when he swept down, with the rapidity of an arrow, into a 
thicket of briers, about thirty yards off, where I shot him dead, 
and, on coming up, found a small field-sparrow quivering in his 
grasp. Both our aims had been taken in the same instant ; and, 
unfortunately for him, both were fatal. It is particularly fond of 
watching along hedge-rows and in orchards, where small birds 
usually resort. When grasshoppers are plenty, they form a con- 
siderable part of its food. 



THE SPARROW HAWK. 21 

" Though small snakes, mice, lizards, &c., are favorite morsels 
with this active bird, yet we are not to suppose it altogether desti- 
tute of delicacy in feeding. It will seldom or never eat of any 
thing that it has not itself killed ; and even that, if not (as epicures 
would term it) in good eating order, is sometimes rejected. A very 
respectable friend, through the medium of Mr. Bartram, informs 
me, that one morning he observed one of these hawks dart down 
on the ground, and seize a mouse, which he carried to a fence-post, 
where, after examining it for some time, he left it, and, a little 
while after, pounced upon another mouse, which he instantly car- 
ried off to his nest in the hollow of a tree hard by. The gentle- 
man, anxious to know why the hawk had rejected the first mouse, 
went up to it, and found it to be almost covered with lice, and 
greatly emaciated. Here was not only delicacy of taste, but sound 
and prudent reasoning : " If I carry this to my nest," thought he, 
" it will fill it with vermin, and hardly be worth eating." 

"The Blue Jays have a particular antipathy to this bird, and 
frequently insult it by following and imitating its notes so exactly 
as to deceive even those well acquainted with both. In return for 
all this abuse, the Hawk contents himself with now and then 
feasting on the plumpest of his persecutors, who are, therefore, in 
perpetual dread of him ; and yet, through some strange infatuation, 
or from fear that, if they lose sight of him, he may attack them 
unawares, the Sparrow Hawk no sooner appears than the alarm is 
given, and the whole posse of jays follow." 

Although I have had quite a number of the eggs of this 
bird, I have been able to meet with but one nest, notwith- 
standing I have repeatedly searched for it in many localities. 
This was built in a crow's nest of the previous year, in a 
hemlock-tree, about thirty feet from the ground. There 
had been apparently but few alterations of the old nest ; 
these consisting principally of the addition of a few loose 
sticks and twigs to the interior of the nest, making it 
nearly a flat platform. The locality was the valley of the 
Magalloway River, about twenty-five miles north of Lake 
Umbagog, Me. The eggs were four in number ; and 
these, with several other specimens collected in Upton, Me., 



22 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

Calais, Me., and Williamstown, Mass., are before me. I am 
inclined to think,- from what I can learn from collectors and 
others, that four is the usual number laid by this bird, 
probably seldom more. Their ground-color varies from a 
deep cream or yellowish-buff to a pale reddish-white : this 
is covered, more or less thickly in different specimens, with 
spots and confluent blotches of reddish-brown and Vandyke- 
brown, or chocolate. Their form is nearly spherical, being 
but very little pointed at either end. Their dimensions 
vary from 1.40 inch by 1.15 inch to 1.30 inch by 1.13 inch. 
This species breeds later than most of the other birds 
of prey, as the eggs which I found in Maine on the llth of 
June, 1864, were newly laid. 



Sub-Family ACCIPITRIN^E. The Hawks. 

Form rather long and slender; tail and legs long; wings rather short; bill short, 
hooked ; upper mandible lobed, but not toothed. Very active and vigilant, and swift 
of flight; pursuing their prey, which consists of birds and small quadrupeds, into 
the woods and forests. 

ASTUR, LAC. 

Astur, LACEPEDE, Mem. Inst., Ill: p. 506. 

The largest birds of this sub-family. General form strong, but rather long and 
slender; wing rather short; tail long and broad; tarsi long, covered in front with 
rather wide transverse scales; toes and claws moderate, the latter fully curved, 
sharp; bill short, curved; nostrils large, ovate, inserted in the cere. This genus 
contains about twelve species of all countries. 

ASTUR ATRICAPILLUS. Bonaparte. 

The Goshawk. 

Falco atricapillus, Wilson. Am. Orn., VI. 80 (1812). 
Falco regalis, Temm. PI. col. I. (liv. 84, about 1827). 
Dcedalion pictum, Lesson. Traite d'Orn., I. 67 (1831). 

DESCRIPTION. 

Adult. Head above, neck behind, and stripe from behind the eye, black, 
generally more or less tinged with ashy; other upper parts dark ashy bluish or 
Blate color, with the shafts of the feathers black, and frequently with the feathers 
narrowly edged with black, presenting a squamate or scale-like appearance ; a con- 
spicuous stripe over the eye, and an obscure and partially concealed occipital and 



THE GOSHAWK. 23 

nuchal band, white ; entire under parts mottled with white and light ashy-brown ; 
every feather with a longitudinal line of dark-brown on its shaft, and with numerous 
irregular and imperfect transverse lines or narrow stripes of light ashy-brown, more 
distinct and regular on the abdomen and tibice ; quills brown, with bands of a deeper 
shade of the same color, and of ashy-white on their inner webs; tail same color as 
other upper parts ; under surface very pale, nearly white, and having about four 
obscure bands of a deeper shade of ashy-brown, and narrowly tipped with white; 
under tail coverts white. 

Young. Entire upper parts, including head, dark-brown, with the feathers, 
especially on the head and neck behind, edged and spotted with light-reddish, or 
nearly white ; tail light-ashy, with about five wide and conspicuous bands of ashy- 
brown, and narrowly tipped with ashy-white; quills brown, with wide bars of a 
darker shade of the same color, and wide bands of reddish-white on their inner 
webs; under parts white, generally tinged with yellowish, and frequently with red- 
dish ; every feather with a longitudinal stripe terminating in an ovate spot of brown ; 
sides and tibiae frequently with circular and lanceolate spots and irregular bands 
of the same color, the tibiae generally very conspicuously marked in this manner; 
under tail coverts white, with a few large lanceolate spots of brown. 

" Adult. Bill black, light-blue at the base; cere greenish-yellow; eyebrow 
greenish-blue ; iris reddish-orange ; feet yellow. 

"Young. Bill as in the adult; iris light-yellow; feet greenish-yellow." 

AUDUBON. 

Total length, female, twenty-two to twenty-four inches ; wing about fourteen ; 
tail, ten and a half to eleven inches. Male, about twenty inches ; wing, twelve and 
a half; tail, nine and a half inches. 

This handsome hawk is a not very common winter visitor 
in the New-England States ; at least, such is my observa- 
tion, which is corroborated by many others, although Mr. 
Verrill, in his catalogue of the birds of Maine, 1 says it is 
common, and that it breeds there. I have never met with 
a nest of this species, and have no authentic specimen of 
its egg in my collection. In 1864, a gentleman brought 
me two eggs that he found in a large hawk's nest in 
Woburn, Mass. He described the hawk, which he killed, 
and which corresponded pretty closely with that of this bird. 
I showed him mounted specimens of the Goshawk, and he 
thought them identical with his bird. As there was still a 
doubt concerning the identity of the eggs, I did not label 
them as of this species, and for the same reason will not 
figure them in this work. So far as description goes, they 
are almost exactly like the eggs of the Red-tailed Hawk 

1 Proceedings Essex Institute, vol. III. p. 140. 



24 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

(Euteo lorealis), but are a little more of a bluish-white in 
the ground-color. 

For some reason, this species was quite abundant in 
the neighborhood of Boston in the winter of 1859-60 : 
probably a dozen or fifteen specimens were sent to me in 
the different plumages, and I have heard of many others 
being shot in the same season. 

I have had but few opportunities for studying the habits 
of this hawk, and, as my observations have been very 
meagre, I will give Audubon's description, which, so far as 
my experience goes, is very accurate ; it is as follows : 

" The flight of the Goshawk is extremely rapid and protracted. 
He sweeps along the margins of the fields, through the woods, and 
by the edges of ponds and rivers, with such speed as to enable him 
to seize his prey by merely deviating a few yards from his course ; 
assisting himself on such occasions by his long tail, which, like a 
rudder, he throws to the right or left, upwards or downwards, to 
check his progress, or enable him suddenly to alter his course. 
At times he passes like a meteor through the underwood, where 
he secures squirrels and hares with ease. Should a flock of wild 
pigeons pass him when on these predatory excursions, he imme- 
diately gives chase, soon overtakes them, and, forcing his way into 
the very centre of the flock, scatters them in confusion, when you 
may see him emerging with a bird in his talons, and diving towards 
the depth of the forest to feed upon his victim. When travelling, 
he flies high, with a constant beat of the wings, seldom moving in 
large circles like other hawks ; and, when he does this, it is only 
a few times in a hurried manner, after which he continues his 
journey. 

"Along the Atlantic Coast, this species follows the numerous 
flocks of ducks that are found there during the autumn and winter ; 
and greatly aids in the destruction of -mallards, teals, black ducks, 
and other species, in company with the Peregrine Falcon (Falco 
anatum). It is a restless bird, apparently more vigilant and indus- 
trious than many other hawks, and it seldom alights unless to 
devour its prey ; nor can I recollect ever having seen one alighted 
for many minutes at a time, without having a bird in its talons. 



THE GOSHAWK. 25 

When thus engaged with its prey, it stands nearly upright ; and in 
general, when perched, it keeps itself more erect than most species 
of hawks. It is extremely expert at catching snipes on the 
wing ; and so well do these birds know their insecurity, that, on its 
approach, they prefer squatting to endeavoring to escape by flight. 

" When the passenger pigeons are abundant in the western 
country, the Goshawk follows their close masses, and subsists 
upon them. A single hawk suffices to spread the greatest terror 
among their ranks ; and the moment he sweeps towards a flock, 
the whole immediately dive into the deepest woods, where, not- 
withstanding their great speed, the marauder succeeds in clutching 
the fattest. While travelling along the Ohio, I observed several 
hawks of this species in the train of millions of these pigeons. 
Towards the evening of the same day, I saw one abandoning its 
course to give chase to a large flock of Crow Blackbirds ( Quis- 
calus versicolor), then crossing the river. The hawk approached 
them with the swiftness of an arrow, when the blackbirds rushed 
together so closely that the flock looked like a dusky ball passing 
through the air. On reaching the mass, he, with the greatest ease, 
seized first one, then another and another, giving each a squeeze 
with his talons, and suffering it to drop upon the water. In this 
manner he had procured four or five, before the poor birds reached 
the woods, into which they instantly plunged, when he gave up the 
chase, swept over the water in graceful curves, and picked the fruits 
of his industry, carrying each bird singly to the shore. Reader, is 
this instinct or reason ? 

" The nest of the Goshawk is placed on the branches of a tree, 
near the trunk or main stem. It is of great size, and resembles 
that of our crow, or some species of owl ; being constructed of with- 
ered twigs and coarse grass, with a lining of fibrous strips of plants 
resembling hemp. It is, however, much flatter than that of the 
crow. In one I found, in the month of April, three eggs ready to 
be hatched : they were of a dull bluish-white, sparingly spotted 
with light reddish-brown. In another, which I found placed on a 
pine-tree, growing on the eastern rocky bank of the Niagara River, 
a few miles below the great cataract, the lining was formed of 
withered herbaceous plants, with a few feathers : the eggs were 
four in number, of a white color tinged with greenish-blue, large, 
much rounded, and somewhat granulated. 



26 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

" In another nest were four young birds covered with buff-col- 
ored down, their legs and feet of a pale yellowish flesh-color, the 
bill light-blue, and the eyes pale-gray. They differed greatly in 
size, one being quite small compared with the rest. I am of 
opinion that few breed to the south of the State of Maine." 

I once witnessed an attempt of this bird to capture a 
common gray squirrel, that was quite interesting to the 
beholder, but certainly not to the animal. While on a col- 
lecting excursion, a few miles from Boston, as I was seated 
beneath a huge oak, observing the movements of some small 
birds, I heard the barking of a squirrel ; and, while looking- 
for his whereabouts, I suddenly heard a whistling sound as 
of a body falling through the air, and, as quick as thought, 
a Goshawk struck on the limb, on tbe spot where, a second 
before, the squirrel had been seated : luckily for the squirrel, 
the hawk missed his aim, the animal giving a sudden dodge 
beneath the limb the moment the hawk appeared. All 
who are acquainted with the habits of this quadruped 
know that it is very successful in dodging behind the limb 
of a tree, and hugging it closely. The hawk sat a few 
moments, apparently surprised at his disappointment, when, 
suddenly launching into the air, he espied it beneath the 
limb, hugging for dear life. As soon as he had moved, 
the squirrel turned adroitly on the limb, still keeping it 
between itself and its enemy. After several trials, the 
hawk always alighting and remaining perched on the limb a 
few seconds, he succeeded, by a dexterous feint, in securing 
his prey, when, on the instant, I fired, bringing the hawk 
and his victim to the ground. The hawk dropped dead; 
but the squirrel, after lying on the ground a moment, got 
up, and staggered off beneath a pile of rocks, and I neither 
saw nor heard any thing more of it. 

ACCIPITER, BRISSON. 

Accipiter, BRISSON, Orn., I. 310 (1760). 

General form more slender and smaller than Astur, but otherwise similar; wings 
short, tail long, tarsi long and slender, frequently with the scales in front nearly 



THE COOPER'S HAWK. 27 

obsolete. Contains about twenty species of all countries, several of which intimately 
resemble each other. Colors in North-American species very similar to each other, 
especially in adult specimens, though they differ materially in size. 

ACCIPITEE COOPERII. Bonaparte. 
The Cooper's Hawk. 

Falco Cooperii, Bonaparte. Am. Orn., II. 1 (1828). 
Falco Stankii, Audubon. Orn. Biog., I. 186 (1831). 

DESCRIPTION. 

Adult. Head above brownish-black, mixed with white on the occiput, other 
upper parts dark ashy-brown, with the shafts of the feathers brownish-black ; an 
obscure rufous collar on the neck behind; throat and under tail coverts white, the 
former with lines of dark-brown ; other under parts transversely barred with light 
rufous and white; quills ashy-brown, with darker bands, and white irregular 
markings on their inner webs; tail dark cinereous, tipped with white, and with four 
wide bands of brownish-black. 

Young. Head and neck behind yellowish-white, tinged with rufous, and with 
longitudinal stripes and oblong spots of brown; other upper parts light amber- 
brown, with large partially concealed spots and bars of white; upper tail coverts 
tipped with white; under parts white, with narrow longitudinal stripes of light- 
brown; tail as in adult; bill bluish horn-color; tarsi yellow; iris in adult, reddish- 
orange ; in young, bright yellow. 

Total length, male fifteen to sixteen 'inches ; wing, nine; tail, .eight inches. 
Female, total length, seventeen to eighteen inches; wing, nine and a half to ten; 
tail, nine inches. 

It is a noticeable fact in the history of many of our birds, 
that in different periods, from some cause or other, many 
species have increased in number to a remarkable extent, 
while others have diminished in like proportion. Some 
have moved from sections in which they were for years 
common residents, to others in which they were, compara- 
tively, strangers. 

The Cooper's or Stanley Hawk of Audubon has had one 
of these changes ; and throughout New England, where it 
was formerly a comparatively rare species, it is now one of 
the most abundant of our birds of prey. 

The habits of the Cooper's Hawk are generally well 
known. It is the smallest of those known by the name of 
" Hen Hawk ; " and the mischief it does among domestic 
poultry well earns for it this title. 



28 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

Powerful, active, and gifted with great rapidity of flight, 
he is able to attack and conquer birds and animals greatly 
his superior in size and weight. The Common Hare (Lepus 
Americanus) often falls a victim to his voracity. Ducks, 
grouse, squirrels, and small birds, are destroyed by him ; 
and I have known of his capturing and eating snakes and 
other reptiles, and even grasshoppers and crickets. 

In hunting for prey, he usually flies just above the trees 
in the forest, and quite near the earth in the open country. 
His flight consists of a rapid succession of beatings of the 
wings, with intervals of equal periods of soarings. On 
discovering a bird or other object that he may wish to 
capture, he immediately gives chase. If the bird takes to 
the foliage of the trees, he immediately follows, turning at 
every turn, doubling and twisting through the trees with 
wonderful speed and success ; and the chase is usually but 
a very short one indeed before he alights to feed on the 
quarry that he has secured. 

He is very destructive to the flocks of young ducks that 
breed in the wilder districts of the country.- I remember 
an instance of one of his raids on these birds that is not 
without interest. 

While on a hunting and collecting excursion in the wilds 
of Maine, up the Magalloway River, a beautiful stream 
that empties into the Androscoggin, near Lake Umbagog, 
I wandered down the river banks, that are, for nearly the 
entire length of the stream, fringed with a thick growth of 
trees, away from the camp perhaps a mile. I was watching 
an old Black Duck (Anas obscura) and her brood of eight 
" flappers " disporting themselves in the water, and impa- 
tiently waiting for an opportunity for a shot; for, kind 
reader, I can assure you that a " broiled flapper," or wild 
duck about half grown, is a delicacy which, once enjoyed, is 
eagerly sought for by the frequenters of the wilderness. As 
I was creeping cautiously within shot of the birds, I sud- 
denly heard a " quack " and splash, and the whole bevy was 



THE COOPER'S HAWK. 29 

gone. At that instant, a Cooper's Hawk, that had evidently 
just made a swoop at the flock and missed it, alighted on a 
small tree that hung over the water, and remained perfectly 
motionless. Now, when man attempts to secure any of 
these young ducks, the parent almost always flies off, while 
the young dive and swim under water to the banks of the 
stream or pond where they may be. When a bird of prey 
makes his appearance, the whole family dives beneath the 
surface, and swims off; the mother in one direction, the 
young in another. I have noticed the same fact several 
time's, and conclude that the parent, who frequently makes 
her appearance above the surface, does so because she is 
capable of enduring submersion better than her young, 
and shows herself often, a little farther from her offspring 
every time, until she had led their pursuer away from 
them ; giving them, in the mean time, a chance to swim off, 
and conceal themselves. The hawk, in this instance, was 
not to be deceived. He followed the parent but once, and 
then immediately returned to his perch. The banks of the 
river at this place were steep, there was no vegetation 
growing in the water, and the chances for obtaining a meal 
from one of the young ducks were decidedly in the hawk's 
favor. 

The young ducks are very expert divers. They have the 
faculty of sinking beneath the surface at any alarm, and 
will remain there perhaps half a minute. Unfortunately 
for them, they cannot swim beneath the surface a great 
distance, and generally come up quite near the place where 
they went down. The hawk sat attentively inspecting the 
river in different places; and, as one of the young birds 
made its appearance, he marked it for his victim. The 
moment it rose to the surface, he made a swoop for it, 
when, of course, it dove. This was repeated several times, 
the young duck remaining beneath the water a shorter 
length of time at each dive. Soon it was manifest that the 
hawk would obtain his quarry, when, as he flew for 



30 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

the duck the last time, I pulled trigger on him ; for we are 
all eminently selfish, and when one of the lower animals, 
as we regard them, interferes with us in our pleasures or 
comforts, even if they are fulfilling the dictates of their 
natures, we brush them from existence, as if we were the 
only rightful possessors of this beautiful world. Fortu- 
nately for the hawk, unfortunately for the flapper, and 
much to my chagrin, the cap failed to explode, and the poor 
duck was borne off for food for the family of the hawk. 

The Cooper's Hawk breeds in all the New-England States, 
and is partial to no particular locality. I have found the 
nest in sections not a mile from the seacoast ; in the deepest 
woods of Northern Maine; and have had the eggs sent me 
from different localities in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and 
New Hampshire. 

The nest of this species is more often found than that of 
any other. In my collecting trips, my experience has been 
that I have found certainly two nests of this to one of all 
others. Audubon says, " The nest is usually placed in the 
forks of the branch of an oak-tree, towards its extremity. 
In its general appearance, it resembles that of the common 
crow, for which I have several times mistaken it. It is com- 
posed externally of numerous crooked sticks, and has a slight 
lining of grasses and a few feathers." This does not agree 
with my observation ; for, in great numbers of nests that I 
have examined, in which I have found no great variation in 
character, they were almost invariably in a fork of a tall 
tree near the top, in three cases out of five in the differ- 
ent pines. They were large, bulky affairs, constructed of 
twigs and sticks, some of them nearly half an inch in 
diameter: they were decidedly hollowed, and often lined 
with leaves and the loose bark of the cedar. The eggs of 
this species vary in number from' two to four. I do not 
remember ever having found more than four, which number 
is usually laid. Their ground-color is a dirty bluish-white, 
with often thinly scattered spots of brown, or obscure 



THE SHARP-SHINNED HAWK. 31 

blotches and markings of a shade darker than the ground- 
color of the egg. A great number of specimens in my col- 
lection exhibit a variation in dimensions of from 1.82 inch 
to 2 inches in length, by from 1.50 inch to 1.62 in breadth. 
The average dimensions are about 1.78 inch by 1.52 inch. 
The breeding season varies considerably with this species, 
even in the same latitude. I have found nests with eggs as 
early as the first week in May, and as late as the first week 
in June. Usually the eggs are laid before the 20th of May 
in Massachusetts. The season for the northern district of 
New England seems to be from one to two weeks later than 
this ; that of the southern district, about a week earlier. 

A pair of birds that nested in Newton, Mass., in the 
summer of 1866, were robbed of their eggs four times in 
the season. They built different nests in the same grove, 
and laid in the four litters four, four, five, and three eggs 
respectively. The eggs of the last litter were very small ; 
but little larger than the eggs of the Sharp- shinned Hawk. 

ACCIPITER FUSCUS. Gmelin. 
The Sharp-shinned Hawk. 

Falcofuscus et dubius, Gm. Syst. Nat., I. 280, 281 (1788). 

Accipiter strialus, Vieillot. Ois. d'Am. Sept., I. 42 (1807). 

Falco velox et Pennsykanicus, Wilson. Am. Orn., V. 116, and VI. p. 13 (1812). 

Sparvius lineatus, Vieillot. Ency. Meth., III. 1266 (1823). 

Nisus Malfini, Lesson. Traite d'Orn., I. 58 (1831). 

DESCRIPTION. 

Adult. Small; tail rather long; legs and toes slender; entire upper parts 
brownish-black, tinged with ashy; occiput mixed with white; throat and under tail 
coverts white, the former with lines of black on the shafts of the feathers ; other 
under parts fine light rufous, deepest on the tibia?, and with transverse bands 
of white; shafts of the feathers with lines of dark-brown; tail ashy-brown tipped 
with white, and with about four bands of brownish-black; quills brownish-black, 
with bands of a darker shade, and of white on their inner webs; secondaries and 
tertiaries with large partially concealed spots of white. 

Young. Entire upper parts dull umber-brown, tinged with ashy ; neck behind 
mixed with white ; greater wing coverts and shorter quills with large partially con- 
cealed spots of white ; under parts white, with longitudinal stripes and circular and 
ovate spots of reddish-brown, changing into transverse bands on the flanks 



32 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

and tibia; under tail coverts white; bill dark bluish horn-color; cere and tarsi 
yellow ; iris reddish-yellow. 

Total length of female, twelve to fourteen inches; wing, seven and a half to 
eight; tail, six and a half to seven inches. Male, ten to eleven inches; wing, six 
to six and a half; tail, five to five and a half inches. 

This well-known little species is a general and common 
summer inhabitant of all the New-England States: it 
makes its appearance with the arrival of the earliest flight 
of the smaller migratory birds in spring, and remains until 
the latter part of autumn ; and, in the southern portions of 
these States, even throughout the winter. The habits of the 
bird are so well described by Audubon, that I cannot do 
better than include the description here. He says : 

"While in search of prey, the Sharp-shinned Hawk passes 
over the country, now at a moderate height, now close over the 
land, in so swift a manner, that, although your eye has marked it, 
you feel surprised that the very next moment it has dashed off, and 
is far away. In fact, it is usually seen when least expected, 
and almost always but for a few moments, unless when it has 
procured some prey, and is engaged in feeding upon it. The kind 
of vacillation or wavering with which it moves through the air 
appears perfectly adapted to its wants ; for it undoubtedly enables 
this little warrior to watch and to see at a single quick glance of its 
keen eyes every object, whether to the right or to the left, as it pur- 
sues its course. It advances by sudden dashes, as if impetuosity 
of movement were essential to its nature, and pounces upon and 
strikes such objects as best suit its appetite, but so very suddenly 
that it appears quite hopeless for any of them to try to escape. 
Many have been the times, reader, when watching this vigilant, 
active, and industrious bird, I have seen it plunge headlong among 
the briery patches of one of our old fields, in defiance of all thorny 
obstacles ; and, passing through, emerge on the other side, bearing 
off with exultation in its sharp claws a sparrow or finch, which it 
had surprised when at rest. At other times, I have seen two or 
three of these hawks, acting in concert, fly at a Golden-winged 
Woodpecker while alighted against the bark of a tree, where it 
thought itself secure, but was suddenly clutched by one of the 
hawks throwing, as it were, its long legs with the quickness of 




HAWK, Acccpiter fuscus. Bonaparte. 



THE SHARP-SHINNED HAWK. 33 

thought, protruding its sharp talons, and thrusting them into the 
back of the devoted bird, while it was endeavoring to elude 
the harassing attacks of another, by hopping and twisting around the 
tree. Then down to the ground assailants and assailed would 
fall, the woodpecker still offering great resistance, until a second 
hawk would also seize upon it, and, with claws deeply thrust into 
its vitals, put an end to its life, when both the marauders would 
at once commence their repast." 

Nuttall informs us that " descending furiously and blindly 
upon its quarry, a young hawk of this species broke through 
the glass of the greenhouse at the Cambridge Botanic 
Garden ; and, fearlessly passing through a second glass par- 
tition, he was only brought up by the third, and caught, 
though little stunned by the effort. His wing-feathers were 
much torn by the glass, and his flight in this way so 
impeded as to allow of his being approached." 

Whilst travelling to some point at a considerable distance, 
the Sharp-shinned Hawk flies high, though in a desultory 
manner, with irregular quick flappings of its wings ; and at 
times, as if to pause for a while and examine the objects 
below, moves in short and unequal circles, after which it is 
seen to descend rapidly, and then follow its course at the 
height of only a few feet from the ground, visiting, as it 
were, every clump of low bushes or brier patches likely to 
be inhabited by the smaller birds, on which it principally 
feeds. Again, after having satisfied its hunger, it at times 
rises to a great height, and indeed now and then is scarcely 
discernible from the ground. 

Notwithstanding the comparative abundance of this spe- 
cies, its nest, until quite recently, has been quite rarely 
found. Audubon met with but three, and neither Wilson 
nor Nuttall ever saw one. I have been so fortunate as to 
find several, two of which had in each four eggs. They 
were built in the forks of pine-trees, about twenty-five feet 
from the ground : they were loosely constructed of sticks 
and twigs, were not much hollowed, and were lined with 

3 



34 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

smaller twigs and a few leaves. Fourteen eggs in my col- 
lection, from different parts of New England, exhibit but 
slight variations; they are of a bluish-white color, and 
covered at the larger end with spots and blotches of 
chocolate-brown : in some specimens these blotches are con- 
fluent, making a ring near the large end; 1 others are 
covered nearly over their entire surface with these markings. 
The form of the egg is nearly spherical ; the length varying 
from 1.50 inch to 1.23 inch, and the breadth from 1.24 
inch to 1.06 inch. Average dimensions about 1.40 inch by 
1.20 inch. I have found the eggs as early as the 10th of 
May ; but usually they are not laid before the 20th, in the 
latitude of Massachusetts. The same nest is occupied by 
the parent birds for several years, and the female is a per- 
sistent layer. A case came to my knowledge in the spring 
of 1864, when the nest was robbed three times : fourteen 
eggs were removed ; and, if the female had not been killed 
when the last eggs were taken, she would probably have 
laid another litter, as there were several found in her 
nearly formed. Both sexes, as with nearly all the other 
birds of prey, incubate. 



Sub-Family BUTEONIN^E. The Buzzard-Hawks. 



General form heavy ; flight vigorous and long continued, but not so rapid as in 
the preceding sub-families. Subsist mainly on small quadrupeds and reptiles. 

BUTEO, CUVIER. 

Bttteo, CUVIER, Regne Animal, I. 323 (1817). 

Bill short, wide at base; edges of upper mandible lobed; nostrils large, ovate, 
wings long, wide, fourth and fifth quills usually longest; tail moderate, rather wide; 
tarsi moderate, robust, with transverse scales before and behind, laterally with small 
circular and hexagonal scales; toes moderate, or rather short; claws strong. Con- 
tains about thirty species, inhabiting all countries. 

1 The specimen, fig. 3, plate I., is marked with a ring of confluent blotches at the 
matter end, a peculiarity rarely met with. 



THE RED-TAILED HAWK. 35 

BUTEO BOREALIS. VieilloL 
The Red-tailed Hawk. 

Falco borealis, Leverianus, and Jamaicensis, Gm. Syst. Nat., I. 266 (1788). 

Falco aquilinus, Bartram. Trav., p. 290 (1791). 

Buteo ferrugineicaudus, Vieillot. Ois. d'Am. Sept., I. 32 (1807). 

Accipiter ruficaudus, Vieillot! Ois. d'Am. Sept., I. 43 (1807). 

Buleo fulvous and Americanus, Vieillot. Nouv. Diet., IV. 472, 477 (1816). 

DESCRIPTION. 

Adult. Tail bright rufous, narrowly tipped with white, and having a subtermi- 
nal band of black; entire upper parts dark umber-brown, lighter and with fulvous 
edgings on the head and neck ; upper tail coverts yellowish- white, with rufous and 
brown spots and bands; throat white, with narrow longitudinal stripes of brown; 
other under parts pale yellowish-white, with longitudinal lines and spots of reddish- 
brown, tinged with fulvous ; most numerous on the breast, and forming an irregular 
band across the abdomen ; under tail coverts and tibiae generally clear yellowish- 
white, unspotted, but the latter frequently spotted and transversely barred with 
light rufous ; under surface of tail silvery-white. 

Young. Tail usually ashy-brown, with numerous bands of a darker shade of 
the same color, and narrowly tipped with white; upper tail coverts white, with 
bands of dark-brown ; other upper parts dark umber-brown, many feathers edged 
with dull white and with partially concealed spots of white; entire under parts 
white, sides of the breast with large ovate spots of brownish-black, and with a wide 
irregular band on the abdomen, composed of spots of the same color; under tail 
coverts and tibiae with irregular transverse stripes and sagittate spots of dark-brown ; 
bill, blue-black; cere and sides of the mouth, yellow tinged with green; legs yellow; 
iris pale amber. 

Total length of female, about twenty-three inches; wing, fifteen to sixteen 
inches; tail, eight and a half inches. Male, nineteen to twenty -one inches; wing, 
fourteen inches ; tail, seven and a half to eight inches. 

The Red-tailed Hawk is a common resident of all the 
New-England States throughout the year. Its habits are 
so well known that a description here is hardly needed. 
Every one has noticed this hawk up in the air, at a consider- 
able height, soaring in extended circles, and uttering the 
oft-repeated cry, kae, Jcae, kae, as he examines the earth 
beneath him for prey. Audubon was of the opinion, that 
the bird emitted this shriek for the purpose of attracting the 
notice of birds and animals beneath, and causing them to 
fly to a place of concealment, thus giving him a knowledge 
of their whereabouts. This supposition is not improbable ; 
for he is often observed descending with great rapidity 
towards a bird that has taken flight at his outcries. 



36 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

This Hawk is very destructive among domestic poultry, 
and is generally regarded with dislike. I have known of 
instances when he has almost completely depopulated a 
poultry-yard before he could be captured. 

It is the custom of the Hawk, wl^en he has once had a 
taste of a flock of fowls, to visit it regularly every day at 
about the same time ; sometimes in the afternoon, oftener 
in the morning. 

The moment his cry is heard, the shrill alarm of the cock 
is given, when the hens run hither and thither, cackling, 
and adding to their own affright; the guinea-fowls rattle 
their discordant notes ; the mother with her chickens becomes 
almost frantic in her efforts to protect her young from 
the inevitable destroyer. In the midst of this clatter, the 
pirate who has been its sole cause comes on eager wing, 
and, selecting the fattest of the flock, pounces upon it, and, 
with scarcely an effort, bears it off to feast his mate and 
young. The Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) and Com- 
mon Hare (Lepus Americanus) both fall victims; and the 
number he destroys is very great. 

The Red-Tailed Hawk builds its nest in a lofty fork of a 
large tree. The nest is one of the largest of our rapacious 
birds, in one case, to my knowledge, exceeding two feet 
in width and twenty inches in depth. It is constructed of 
large sticks and twigs; is but slightly hollowed; and is 
lined with smaller twigs, leaves, and moss. The eggs are 
generally three in number, seldom more : their ground- 
color is a dirty yellowish-white, with blotches of a yellow- 
ish-brown, and sometimes distinct blotches of a darker 
brown. Their form varies from nearly spherical to ovoidal ; 
but they are, in general, nearly as large at one end as at the 
other. Dimensions of specimens vary from 2.12 to 2.25 
inches in length, by from 1.68 to 2 inches in breadth. 

Three eggs that I took from a nest in the southern part 
of Ohio, early in the month of April, measure 2.18 by 1.62 ; 
2.14 by 1.70; and 2.20 by 2 inches, - averaging a little 



THE RED-SHOULDERED HAWK. 37 

smaller than specimens collected in New England. These 
eggs must have been laid by the 25th of March. In New 
England, they are seldom laid before the last week in April 
to the first week in May. 

BUTEO LINEATUS. Jardine. 

The Red-shouldered Hawk. 

Falco lineatus and hyemalis, Gm. Syst. Nat., I. 268, 274 (1788). 
Fdco buteoides, Nuttall. Man., I. 100 (1st edition, 1832). 

DESCRIPTION. 

Adult. Wing coverts, from its flexure to the body, fine bright rufous ; breast 
and other lower parts of the body paler orange rufous, many feathers with transverse 
bars and spots of white, which predominate on the abdomen and under tail coverts; 
entire upper parts brown; on the head mixed with rufous, and with white spots on 
the wing coverts and shorter quills and rump ; quills brownish-black, with white spots 
on their outer webs, and with bars of a lighter shade of brown and of white on 
their inner webs ; tail brownish-black, with about five transverse bands of white, 
and tipped with white. 

Young. Entire upper, parts yellowish-white, with longitudinal stripes and 
oblong spots of dark-brown; throat dark brown; upper parts lighter ashy-brown, 
with many partially concealed spots and bars of white; quills dark-brown, with 
wide transverse bars of rufous and white on both webs; tail ashy-brown, wijth 
numerous bands of pale-brownish and rufous white; tail beneath silvery-white; 
bill light-blue at the base, bluish-black at the tip; cere, basal margin of the bill, 
edges of the eyelids and the feet, bright-yellow; iris hazel. 

Total length, female, twenty-one to twenty-three inches; wing, fourteen; tail, 
nine inches. Male, eighteen to twenty inches ; wing, twelve ; tail, eight inches. 

This bird is a rather common resident of all New Eng- 
land throughout the year. Its habits are so nearly like 
those of the preceding, that I can add nothing to that I 
have already written. 

The best account of the bird's habits in the breeding 
season, that I remember, is given by Audubon. It is as 
follows : 

" This bird is one of the most noisy of its genus, during spring 
especially, when it would be difficult to approach the skirts of woods 
bordering a large plantation without hearing its discordant shrill 
notes, ka-hee, ka-hee, as it is seen sailing in rapid circles at a 
very great elevation. Its ordinary flight is even and protracted, 



38 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

excepting when it is describing the circles just mentioned, when it 
often dives and gambols. It is a more general inhabitant of the 
woods than most of our other species, particularly during the sum- 
mer, and in autumn and winter ; now and then only, in early spring, 
showing itself in the open grounds, and about the vicinity of small 
lakes, for the purpose of securing red- winged starlings and wounded 
ducks. 

u The interior of woods seems, as I have said, the fittest haunts 
for the Red-shouldered Hawk. He sails through them a few yards 
above the ground, and suddenly alights on the low branch of a 
tree or the top of a dead stump, from which he silently watches, 
in an erect posture, for the appearance of squirrels, upon which 
he pounces directly, and kills in an instant, afterwards devour- 
ing them on the ground. If accidentally discovered, he essays to 
remove the squirrel ; but, finding this difficult, he drags it, partly 
through the air and partly along the ground, to some short distance, 
until he conceives himself out of sight of the intruder, when he 
again commences feeding. The eating of a whole squirrel, which 
this bird often devours at one meal, so gorges it, that I have seen 
it in this state almost unable to fly, and with such an extraordinary 
protuberance on its breast as seemed very unnatural, and very 
injurious to the beauty of form which the bird usually displays. 
On all occasions such as I have described, when the bird is so 
gorged, it is approached with the greatest ease. On the contrary, 
when it is in want of food, it requires the greatest caution to get 
within shooting distance of it. 

" At the approach of spring, this species begins to pair ; and its 
flight is accompanied with many circlings and zigzag motions, 
during which it emits its shrill cries. The male is particularly 
noisy at this time. He gives chase to all other hawks, returns to 
the branch on which his mate has chanced to perch, and caresses 
her. This happens about the beginning of March. 1 The spot 
adapted for a nest is already fixed upon, and the fabric is half 
finished. The top of a tall tree appears to be preferred by this 
hawk, as I have found its nest more commonly placed there, not 
far from the edges of woods bordering plantations. 

"When one ascends to the nest (which, by the way, is not 

1 May in New England. 



THE RED-SHOULDERED HAWK. 39 

always an easy matter, as our beech-trees are not only very 
smooth, but frequently without any boughs to a considerable dis- 
tance from the ground, as well as of rather large size), the female 
bird, if she happens to be sitting, flies off silently, and alights on a 
neighboring tree to wait the result; but should the male, who 
supplies her with food, and assists in incubation, be there, or make 
his appearance, he .immediately sets up a hue and cry, and plunges 
toward the assailant with such violence as to astonish him. 

" When, on several occasions, I have had the tree, on which the 
nest was placed, cut down, I have observed the same pair, a few 
days after, build another nest on a tree not far distant from the 
spot in which the first one had been. 

" The mutual attachment of the male and the female continues 
during life. They usually hunt in pairs during the whole year; 
and, although they build a new nest every spring, they are fond of 
resorting to the same parts of the woods for that purpose. 1 

" The young remain in the nest until fully fledged, and are fed 
by the parents for several weeks after they have begun to fly ; but 
leave them, and begin to shift for themselves, in about a month, 
when they disperse, and hunt separately, until the approach of the 
succeeding spring, at which time they pair. 

" This Hawk seldom attacks any kind of poultry, and yet fre- 
quently pounces on partridges, doves, or wild pigeons, as well as 
red-winged blackbirds, and now and then young rabbits. On one 
or two occasions, I have seen them make their appearance at the 
report of my gun, and try to rob me of some blue-winged teals, 
shot in small ponds. I have never seen them chase any other 
small birds than those mentioned, or quadrupeds of smaller size 
than the Cotton Rat." 

My experience has been different from the above para- 
graph ; for I have known of this Hawk attacking poultry, 
and, even several times in the same flock, killing a fowl each 
time. The breeding habits of this and the Red-tailed Hawk 
are so exactly similar, that the above description well 
answers for both. 

1 T have known of the same nest being occupied by a pair of these birds for 
several seasons. E. A. S. 



40 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

I have found several nests of this species in different 
localities, all of which were placed in high forks of trees. 
They were built of twigs and sticks of different sizes, and 
usually were'of large size. A nest that I found in Milton, 
Mass., was built in a fork of a large oak, against the trunk, 
about forty feet from the ground. It was of a bulk nearly 
sufficient to fill a basket : it was considerably hollowed, and 
lined with dry grass and leaves. The eggs, two in number, 
are in the cabinet of Dr. Brewer, who describes them as 
follows : 

" Two others belonging to this species, obtained in Milton, Mass., 
by Mr. E. A. Samuels, and identified by securing the parent birds, 
may be thus described: One measures 2^ by l|g inch. The 
ground-color is a dirty-white, and is marked with large blotches, 
lines, and dottings of umber-brown of various shades, from quite 
dark to light. The other is 2 inches by l|g, has a bluish-white 
ground, and is only marked by a number of very faint blotches of 
yellowish-brown and a slate-drab. Except in their shape, which is 
an oval spheroid, slightly pointed at one end, these bear but very 
slight resemblance to each other, though taken at the same time 
from one nest." 

A number of specimens in my collection exhibit as great 
a variety as the above instances ; and one specimen, obtained 
in Connecticut, which measures 2.12 by 1.65 inches, has a 
dirty yellowish-white ground-color, which is nearly covered 
with blotches of faint-purple ; the appearance being as if 
the purple spots were laid on, and then a coating of white- 
wash laid over them. 

BUTEO PENNSYLVANICUS. Bonaparte. 
The Broad-winged Hawk. 

Fako Pennsyhanicus, Wilson. Am. Orn., VI. 92 (1812). Aud. Orn. Biog., T. 161. 
Falco Wilwnii, Bonaparte. Jour. Phila. Acad., III. 348 (1824).' 

DESCRIPTION. 

Adult. Entire upper parts umber-brown; featbers on the occiput and back of 
the neck white at their bases; throat white, with longitudinal lines of brown, and 



THE BROAD-WINGED HAWK. 41 

with a patch of brown on each side running from the base of the lower mandible ; 
breast with a wide band composed of large cordate and sagittate spots and trans- 
verse bands of reddish-ferruginous tinged with ashy ; other under parts white, with 
numerous sagittate spots of reddish on the flanks, abdomen, and tibiae In some 
specimens, the ferruginous color predominates on all the under parts, except the 
under tail coverts, and all the feathers have large circular or ovate spots of white 
on both edges; under tail coverts white; quills brownish-black, widely bordered 
with white on their inner webs ; tail dark-brown, narrowly tipped with white, and 
with one wide band of white and several narrower bands near the base. 

Young. Upper parts dull umber-brown, many feathers edged with fulvous and 
ashy-white; upper tail coverts spotted with white; under parts white, generally 
tinged with yellowish, and having longitudinal stripes and oblong and lanceolate 
spots of brownish-black ; a stripe of dark-brown on each side of the neck from the 
base of the under mandible ; tail brown, with several bands of a darker shade of 
the same color, and of white on the inner webs, and narrowly tipped with white. 
Bill bluish-black at the tip, blue towards the base; cere and margin yellow; iris 
hazel; feet gamboge-yellow; claws brownish-black. 

Total length, female, seventeen to eighteen inches; wing, eleven; tail, six and a 
half to seven inches. Male, total length, sixteen to sixteen and a half inches; wing, 
ten inches ; tail, six to six and a half inches. 

This bird, until quite recently, has been regarded as rare 
in all the New-England States; and even now it is by no 
means common, although it is much oftener found here than 
formerly. It occurs in these States only as a summer 
visitor, arriving in the spring about the middle of April, and 
departing for the South in October. The flight of this 
Hawk is quite rapid, consisting of long intervals of soaring, 
with shorter periods of flappings of the wings. It seems to 
prefer the wilder districts to the more thickly settled ones, 
and is most often met with in the interior of the country. 
I noticed several individuals, in the course of a day's march 
in Northern Maine, soaring above the hemlock and pine 
forests, and uttering their shrill key, ky-ah, ky-ah-ke-ee, 
ke-ee, as they were searching for prey beneath them. Small 
birds, reptiles, squirrels, and insects constitute the principal 
portion of their food ; and they seldom attack a bird larger 
than a pigeon or quail. 

Once, while listening to the beautiful song of the White- 
throated Sparrow, I was startled by the sudden appearance 
of one of these hawks, which, flying within a yard of my 
head, as I sat in some bushes on the shores of Lake Umba- 



42 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

gog, pounced at a Red Squirrel (S. Hudsonius), that was 
chattering at me from the top of a hollow stump: the 
squirrel barely escaped by diving into the hollow, when 
the hawk, turning suddenly, rushed at my little songster, 
and, clutching him through the vitals, bore him off in 
exultation. So sudden was the attack, that I had no time 
to cock my gun before he was half a dozen rods off, when I 
fired, and brought him to the ground : the sparrow was, of 
course, dead. The hawk was only wing-tipped ; and, throw- 
ing himself on his back, his feet extended, he awaited my 
approach. As I drew near him, he emitted a sort of hiss ; 
and, as he glared at me with rage-enkindled eye, he appeared 
the very incarnation of wrath. On killing him, I found that 
he had had one of his tarsi broken before, apparently by a 
shot : it had healed, but had lost none of its strength ; for, as 
I touched him with a stick, he grasped it with both feet so 
powerfully that all his claws were thrust deep into the wood. 
The nest is rarely found. One that I visited in West Rox- 
bury, Mass., on the 20th of May, 1864, had four eggs ; it 
was built in a tall pine-tree, in a fork near the top ; it was 
composed of coarse sticks and twigs, and was lined with 
the bark of the red cedar and a few leaves and feathers. 
The eggs, which are now before me, vary from 2 by 1.70 
inches, to 2.15 by 1.72 inches ; their color is a dirty yellow- 
ish-white, covered more or less thickly in the different 
specimens with spots and blotches of reddish-brown : an- 
other egg, obtained in Newton, Mass., in the previous 
season, is somewhat smaller, and the markings are fainter, 
and of a lighter color. Two other specimens in my collec- 
tion, collected in New Hampshire, correspond to this 
description ; but the spots are much finer and of a darker 
color. 

ARCHIBUTEO, BUEHM. 

Archibuteo, Brehm, Isis, 1828, p. 1269. 

Tarsi densely feathered to the toes, but more or less naked behind, and then cov- 
ered with scales. Wings long and wide; toes short; claws moderate; tail rather 
short, wide. Other characters very similar to those of Buteo. 



THE ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK. 43 

This genus contains six or seven species, inhabiting Europe, Asia, and North 
America, all birds of heavy though robust organization, subsisting mainly on small 
quadrupeds and reptiles. The species of this genus are easily recognized by their 
having the tarsi feathered. 

ARCHIBUTEO LAGOPUS. Gray. 
The Rough-legged Hawk. 

Falco lagopus, Gm. Syst. Nat., 260 (1788). Aud. Orn. Biog , II. 377, and 
Wilson. 

Falco plumipes, Daudin. Traite d'Orn., II. 163. 
Falco pennatus, Cuvier. Reg. An., I. 323 (1817). 
Archibuteo alticeps, Brehm. Vog. Deutsch, I. 40. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Tarsus densely feathered in front to the toes, naked behind; wing long; tail 
rather short. 

Adult. Head above yellowish-white, with longitudinal stripes of brown tinged 
with reddish, especially on the occiput; back scapular, and shorter quills pale cine- 
reous, with partially concealed transverse bands of white and dark -brown, the latter 
frequently predominating, and giving the color on the back ; rump dark umber-brown ; 
longer quills and wing coverts umber-brown ; primaries edged externally with ashy, 
and with a large space on their inner webs at their base, white with a silky lustre ; 
under parts white; throat with longitudinal stripes of dark-brown; breast with large 
spots and concealed stripes of reddish-brown ; abdomen-with numerous transverse 
narrow bands of brownish-black, most conspicuous on the flanks, and tinged with 
ashy; tibiae and tarsi barred transversely with white and dark-brown, and tinged 
with reddish; under tail coverts white; upper tail coverts white at base and 
tipped with brownish-black; tail white at base, with a wide subterminal band of 
black, and about two other bands of black alternating with others of light-cinere- 
ous; cere and toes yellow; iris hazel; under wing coverts white, with spots of 
brownish-black, and on the longer coverts with a large space of ashy-brown. 

Young. Upper parts light umber-brown, many feathers, especially on the head 
and neck behind, edged with yellowish-white and pale-reddish ; a wide transverse 
band or belt on the abdomen brownish-black; other under parts yellowish-white, 
with a few longitudinal lines and spots of brownish-black; quills ashy-brown, with 
a large basal portion of their inner webs white ; tail at its base white, with a sub- 
terminal band of light umber-brown, tip white ; tibiae and tarsi pale reddish-yellow, 
with longitudinal stripes and spots of dark-brown; cere and toes yellow; iris hazel. 

Total length, female, twenty-one to twenty -three inches; wing, sixteen to seven- 
teen inches; tail, nine inches. Male, total length, nineteen to twenty-one inches; 
wing, fifteen to sixteen inches; tail, eight to eight and a half inches. 

This Hawk is rarely seen in New England, appearing only 
in the late fall and winter months. I have had no opportu- 
nities of studying its habits and characteristics, and will 
give the short description by Audubon. He says, 



44 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

" The Rough-legged Hawk seldom goes further south along our 
Atlantic Coast than the eastern portions of North Carolina; nor 
have I ever seen it west of the Alleghanies. It is a sluggish bird, 
and confines itself to the meadows and low grounds bordering the 
rivers and salt marshes along our bays and inlets. In such places, 
you may see it perched on a stake, where it remains for hours at a 
time, unless some wounded bird comes in sight, when it sails after 
it, and secures it without manifesting much swiftness of flight. It 
feeds principally on moles, mice, and other small quadrupeds, and 
never attacks a duck on the wing, although now and then it pursues 
a wounded one. When not alarmed, it usually flies low and 
sedately, and does not exhibit any of the courage and vigor so con- 
spicuous in most other hawks, suffering thousands of birds to pass 
without pursuing them. The greatest feat I have seen it perform 
was scrambling at the edge of the water to secure a lethargic 
frog. 

" They alight on trees to roost, but appear so hungry or indolent 
at all times, that they seldom retire to rest until after dusk. 
Their large eyes, indeed, seem to indicate their possession of the 
faculty of seeing at that late hour. I have frequently put up one 
that seemed watching for food at the edge of a ditch, long after 
sunset. Whenever an opportunity offer, they eat to excess, 
and, like the Turkey Buzzards and Carrion Crows, disgorge 
their food, to enable themselves to fly off. The species is more 
nocturnal in its habits than any other hawk found in the United 
States." 

I have never met with the nest of this bird, and know 
but little of its breeding habits. It does not breed in New 
England, or, if it does, only very rarely, preferring the more 
northern sections of the continent. Two eggs in my collec- 
tion, from Canada, are of the following description. Their 
ground-color is a dirty bluish-white, which is covered more 
or less thickly on different parts of their surface with 
obscure spots and blotches of different shades of brown- 
ish-ochre and faint-umber. They are broadly ovate in 
form, and are 2.87 by 1.75 inch and 2.87 by 1.63 inch in 
dimensions. 



THE BLACK HAWK. 45 

AECHIBUTEO SANCTI-JOHANNIS. Gray. 
The Black Hawk. 

Falco sancti-johannis, Gm. Syst. Nat., 273 (1788). 
Falco novce-terrce, Gm. Syst. Nat., I. 274 (1788). 
Falco niger, Wilson. Am. Orn., VI. 82 (1812). 

DESCRIPTION. 

Adult. Entire plumage glossy black, in many specimens with a brown tinge; 
forehead, throat^ and large partially concealed spot on occiput, white; tail with 
one transverse well-defined band of white, and irregularly marked towards the base 
with the same color; quills with their inner webs white, readily seen from below; 
cere and toes yellow ; iris hazel ; tarsi densely feathered in front, naked behind. 
Other specimens are entirely dark chocolate-brown, with the head more or less 
striped with yellowish-white and reddish-yellow; tail with several transverse 
bands of white, more or less imperfect and irregular. 

Young. Upper parts light umber-brown, with the feathers more or less edged 
with dull-white and reddish-yellow; abdomen with a broad transverse band of 
brownish-black; other under parts pale yellowish-white, with longitudinal stripes 
of brownish-black, frequently giving the predominating color on the breast and 
sides; wings and tail brown, tinged with cinereous, the former marked with white 
on their inner webs, the latter white at their base ; tarsi and tibiae pale reddish- 
yellow, spotted with brown; cere, feet, and iris the same as in adult. 

Total length, female, twenty-two to twenty-four inches; wing, seventeen to seven- 
teen and a half; tail, nine inches. Male, twenty to twenty-two inches ; wing, sixteen 
to sixteen and a half; tail, eight to eight and a half inches. 

This species, so often confounded in the immature plu- 
mage with the preceding, but which may be separated 
from it by its greater size and more numerous dark spots 
beneath, is a rare winter visitor in New England. Like 
the Rough-legged Hawk, it prefers the marshes and low, 
swampy woods to the higher localities, and preys upon 
mice, wounded ducks, and small birds. I have known of it 
being killed while pursuing a flock of Snow Buntings 
(Plectrophanes nivalis), and have heard of its attacking a 
flock of domestic poultry. Its habits, therefore, are differ- 
ent from those of the A. lagopus, as given by Audubon ; 
but it lacks the courage and vigor of most of our other 
rapacious birds, and is hardly worthy of the immortality it 
has received from the pens of some of our writers. 

The distribution of this species is limited to the north- 
ern regions of the continent in summer, and is very rarely 



48 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

found south of Massachusetts in winter. I do not remem- 
ber of an instance of its being captured far inland, although 
J. A. Allen, before quoted, includes it in the catalogue of 
the birds of Springfield, Mass. 

A single egg in my collection, from Northern America, is 
of the following dimensions : 2.1? by 1.70 inch. Its form 
is a perfect ovoidal. Its primary color is a dirty white ; 
and it is marked with obscure blotches of lilac, and some 
obscure blotches of brown and brownish-yellow. None of 
the markings are decided ; and, at a little distance, the egg 
has the appearance of being of a dirty-white color. 



Sub-Family MILVIN^. The Kites. 

Size various, usually medium or small; general form usually rather slender, and 
not strong ; wings and tail usually long ; bill short, weak, hooked, and acute ; tarsi 
and toes usually slender, and not strong, sometimes short. The birds of this group 
habitually feed on reptiles and other small animals, and are deficient in the strength 
and courage of the other groups of the falcons. 

CIRCUS, LACEPEDE. 

Circus, LACEPEDE, Mem. d'Inst. Paris, III. CXI. 506 (1803). 

Face partially encircled by a ring or ruff of short projecting feathers, as in the 
owls; head rather large; bill short, compressed, curved from the base; nostrils 
large; wings long, pointed; tail rather long, wide; tarsi long and slender; toes 
moderate; claws rather slender and weak. 

CIRCUS HUDSONIUS. Vieillot. 
The Marsh-hawk; Harrier; Mouse-hawk. 

FaJco Hudsonius, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. 128 (1766). 
Falco uliginosus, Gm. Syst. Nat., I. 278 (1788). 
Fnlco uliginosus, Wilson. Am. Orn., VI. 67. 
Falco cyaneus, Aububon. Orn. Biog., IV. 396. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Adult. Form rather long and slender; tarsi long; ruff quite distinct on the 
neck in front: entire upper parts, head, and breast, pale bluish-cinereous, on 
the back of the head mixed with dark-fulvous; upper tail coverts white; under 
parts white, with small cordate or hastate spots of light-ferruginous; quills brownish- 
black, with their outer webs tinged with ashy, and a large portion of their inner 



THE MARSH-HAWK ;. HARRIER ; MOUSE-HAWK. 47 

webs white ; tail light-cinereous, nearly white on the inner webs of the feathers, and 
with obscure transverse bands of brown; under surface silky-white; under wing' 
coverts white; bill blue-black at the extremity; cere and legs yellow, the former 
with a tinge of green ; iris hazel. 

Younger. Entire upper parts dull umber-brown, many feathers edged with dull 
rufous, especially on the neck ; under parts dull reddish-white, with longitudinal 
stripes of brown, most numerous on the throat and neck before ; tibiae tinged with 
reddish; upper tail coverts white. 

Y(wng. Entire upper parts d:\rk umber-brown ; upper tail coverts white ; 
under parts rufous, with longitudinal stripes of brown on the breast and sides; 
tail reddish-brown, with about three wide bands of dark-fulvous, paler on the inner 
webs; tarsi, cere, and iris as in the adult. 

Total length, female, nineteen to twenty-one inches; wing, fifteen and a half; 
tail, ten inches. Male, totsil length, sixteen to eighteen inches; wing, fourteen and a 
half; tail, eight and a half to nine inches. 

This species is pretty generally diffused throughout New 
England as a summer visitor. It is one of the least mis- 
chievous of all the hawks, as it destroys but few of the 
smaller birds. It is more common in districts that are low 
and marshy than in others ; and this fact gives it the name, 
in many localities, of the " Bogtrotter." 

Its flight is low and rapid, consisting of long intervals 
of flappings, with shorter periods of soaring. I do not 
remember of ever hearing it cry out in the manner that 
other hawks do, and think that it hunts silently. It arrives 
from the South from about the middle of April to the first 
of May. I am inclined to think that the birds are generally 
mated before their arrival ; for they are almost always seen 
in pairs from their first appearance. In choosing a situation 
for a nest, both birds are remarkably nervous and restless : 
they are almost constantly on the wing, prying into, and 
apparently taking into account, every thing with reference to 
future comfort. The following circumstances came to my 
observation, and, as I improved every opportunity to watch 
the proceedings, will serve to illustrate the breeding habits 
of this bird : A pair made their appearance about the 
middle of April, a few years since, in a large meadow in 
Dedham, Mass. They were apparently mated from the 
first ; and, as the neighborhood gave promise of an abun- 



48 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

dance of food (field-mice), I concluded that this would bo 
selected as a breeding- place, and watched accordingly. 
The male was very attentive to his mate, often talking to 
and caressing her. If she should alight on the ground or 
on a fence-rail, he would alight with her, and often fly and 
walk around her, bowing and chattering in a ludicrous 
manner. After a situation (luckily where I could watch 
them unobserved) was fixed upon for a nest, both birds 
were very active in its construction. It was built on a 
hummock, perhaps eighteen inches above the level of the 
meadow. The materials used in its construction were 
dried grasses, which were woven together rather neatly. It 
was considerably hollowed, perhaps an inch and a half, 
and lined with very soft grass. The external diameter of 
the nest was about eighteen inches ; internal diameter, 
about eight inches. The female laid four eggs of a dirty- 
white color, with a faint tinge of blue. In one specimen 
there were a few faint spots of brown ; but I think that 
generally the eggs of this species are without spots. 1 I 
have seen a great many, and but a very few had spots, and 
these not at all distinct. A great number of specimens 
exhibit a variation of from 1.62 to 1.90 inch in length, and 
from 1.32 to 1.25 inch in breadth. The habits of this bird 
entitle it to the protection of the farmer. It subsists almost 
entirely upon the injurious field-mice, and the numbers of 
these animals which it destroys in the breeding season are 
incredible : from early dawn to dim twilight it may be seen 
busily searching for these pests, seldom molesting the small 
beneficial birds or poultry. 

i Dr. Brewer, in describing the eggs of this species, says : " With but a single 
exception, all these eggs (six) are very distinctly blotched and spotted. Their 
ground-color is a dirty bluish-white, which in one is nearly unspotted; the markings 
so faint as to be hardly perceptible, and only upon close inspection. In all the 
others, spots and blotches of a light shade of purplish-brown occur, in a greater or 
less degree, over their entire surface. In two, the blotches are large and well 
marked ; in the others, less strongly tra'ced, but quite distinct. This has led to a 
closer examination of eggs from other parts of the country, and nearlv all are per- 
ceptibly spotted." 



THE GOLDEN EAGLE; THE RING-TAILED EAGLE. 49 



Sub-Family AQUILINE. The Eagles. 

Size large, and all parts very strongly organized; bill large, compressed, straight 
at base, curved and acute at tip; wings long, pointed; tail ample, generally rounded; 
tarsi moderate, very strong ; claws curved, very sharp and strong. There are about 
seventy species of eagles of all countries. 



AQUILA, MOEHRING. 

Aquila, MOEHRING, Av. Gen., 49 (1752). 

General form large and very strong, and adapted to long-continued and swift 
flight; bill large, strong, compressed, and hooked at the tip; wings long, pointed; 
tarsi rather short, very strong, feathered to the toes ; claws sharp, strong, curved. 
This genus includes about twenty species, which are regarded as the true eagles. 

AQUILA CANADENSIS. Cassin. 
The Golden Eagle ; the Ring-tailed Eagle. 

Fako Canadends, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. 125 (1766). 
Falco niger, Gm. Syst. Nat., I. 259 (1788). 
Aquila nobilis, Pallas. Zoog. Ross. As., I. 338 (1811). 
Falco chryscetos, Wilson. Aud., II. 464. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Adult. Large; tarsi densely feathered to the toes; head and neck behind light 
brownish-fulvous, varying in shade in different specimens, frequently light orange- 
fulvous, generally darker; tail at base white, which color frequently occupies the 
greater part of the tail; other terminal portion glossy black; all other parts rich 
purplish-brown, frequently very dark, and nearly clear black on the under parts of 
the body; primaries shining black; secondaries purplish-brown; tibiae and tarsi 
brownish-fulvous, generally mixed with dark-ashy; cere and toes yellow: iris 
reddish-hazel. 

Younger. Entire plumage lighter, and mixed with dull-fulvous; under parts of 
the body nearly uniform with the upper parts; cere, toes, and iris like adult. 

Total length, female, thirty-three to forty inches; wing, about twenty-five; tail, 
about fifteen inches. Male, total length, thirty to thirty-five inches ; wing, twenty 
to twenty-three: tail, twelve to fourteen inches. 

The above description is incomplete, so far as the markings of the tail are men- 
tioned ; for in the adult bird the tail is entirely black, and the young have more or 
less white in proportion to their age, the youngest birds having the widest white 
band at the base. 

This bird is so extremely rare in New England, that I 
have had no opportunities for studying its habits. It is 
occasionally found here in different seasons of the year, 

4 



,50 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

and it undoubtedly breeds in the wildest districts of these 
States. The following are the most interesting facts, given 
by Audubon, in relation to this species : 

"The Golden Eagle, although a permanent resident in the 
United States, is of rare occurrence there ; it being seldom that 
one sees more than a pair or two in the course of a year, unless he 
be an inhabitant of the mountains, or of the large plains spread out 
at their base. I have seen a few of them on the wing along the 
shores of the Hudson, others on the upper parts of the Mississippi, 
some among the Alleghanies, and a pair in the State of Maine. 
At Labrador, we saw an individual sailing, at the height of a few 
yards, over the moss-covered surface of the dreary rocks. 

"Although powerful in flight, it has not the speed of many 
hawks, nor even of the White-headed Eagle. It cannot, like the 
latter, pursue and seize, on the wing, the prey it longs for ; but is 
obliged to glide down through the air for a certain height to insure 
the success of its enterprise. The keenness of its eye, however, 
makes up for this defect, and enables it to spy, at a great distance, 
the objects on which it preys ; and it seldom misses its aim, as it 
falls with the swiftness of a meteor towards the spot on which they 
are concealed. When at a great height in the air, its gyrations are 
uncommonly beautiful, being slow and of wide circuit, and becom- 
ing the majesty of the king of birds. It often continues them for 
hours at a time, with apparently the greatest ease. 

" The notes of this species are sharp and harsh ; resembling, at 
times, the barking of a dog ; especially about the breeding season, 
when the birds become extremely noisy and turbulent, flying more 
swiftly than at other times, alighting more frequently, and evincing 
a fretfulness which is not so observable after their eggs are laid. 

" They are capable of remaining without food for several days at 
a time, and eat voraciously whenever they find an opportunity. 

"Young fawns, raccoons, hares, wild turkeys, and other large 
birds, are their usual food ; and they devour putrid flesh only when 
hard pressed by hunger, none alighting on carrion at any other 
time. 

I regret that I am unable to add any thing to our knowl- 
edge of its habits and breeding peculiarities. Dr. Brewer 



THE WHITE-HEADED EAGLE, ETC. 51 

says, "It breeds in the mountainous portions of Maine, 
New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York." The Golden 
Eagle usually constructs its nest on the sides of steep rocky 
crags, where its materials are coarsely heaped together on 
a projecting shelf of rock. These consist of large sticks 
loosely arranged. In rare instances, they are said to 
have been built on trees in the Western States, where 
rocky cliffs are not to be met with. The eggs are usually 
three in number ; sometimes two, or only one. Mr. Audu- 
bon describes them as measuring three and a half inches in 
length by two and a half in breadth ; the shell thick and 
smooth, dull-white, brushed over with undefined patches 
of brown, which are most numerous at the larger end. 



HALLETUS, SAVIGNY. 

Size large; tarsi short, naked, or feathered for a short distance below the joint 
of the tibia and tarsus, and with the toes covered with scales; toes rather long; 
claws very strong, curved, very sharp; bill large, very strong, compressed; margin 
of upper mandible slightly lobed ; wings long, pointed ; tail moderate. 



HALI2ETUS LEUCOCEPHALUS. 
The White-headed Eagle ; the Bald Eagle ; the Gray Eagle. 

Falco leucocephalus, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. 124 (1766). 
Falco pygaryus, Daudin. Traite d'Orn., II. 62 (1800). 
Falco ossifragus, Wilson. Am. Orn., VII. 16 (1813). 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill large, strong, straight at the base, rather abruptly hooked; wings long; 
tarsi rather short. 

Adult. Head, tail, and its upper and under coverts, white; entire other plumage 
brownish-black, generally with the edges of the feathers paler; bill, feet, and irides, 
or iris, yellow. 

Younger. Entire plumage, including head and tail, dark-brown; paler on the 
throat; edges of the feathers paler or fulvous, especially on the under parts; tail 
more or less mottled with white, which color, in more advanced age, extends over a 
large portion of the tail, especially on the inner webs ; bill brownish-black ; irides 
brown. 

Total length, female, about thirty-five to forty inches; wing, twenty-three to 
twenty-five inches ; tail, fourteen to fifteen inches. Male, thirty to thirty-four inches: 
wing, twenty to twenty-two inches ; tail, thirteen to fourteen inches. 



52 



ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



This beautiful and well-known bird is occasionally seen in 
different parts of New England throughout the year, most 
commonly near the seacoast or in the neighborhood of large 




tracts of water. I have had several opportunities of observ- 
ing and studying its habits, but have discovered nothing that 
has not been already presented to the public. Its flight is 



THE WHITE-HEADED EAGLE. 53 

rapid and graceful, and is often prolonged for hours with 
apparent ease. It feeds upon wild-fowl, wild geese, and 
small animals, and is very partial to fish, which it robs from 
the Fish Hawk (P. Carolinensis), and finds cast upon the 
shore, dead. 

Wilson, in describing its attacks on the Fish Hawk, 
says : 

" Formed by nature for braving the severest cold ; feeding 
equally on the produce of the sea and of the land; possessing 
powers of flight capable of outstripping even the tempests them- 
selves ; unawed by any thing but man ; and, from the ethereal 
heights to which he soars, looking abroad, at one glance, on an im- 
measurable expanse of forests, fields, lakes, and ocean, deep below 
him, he appears indifferent to the little change of localities or 
seasons ; as, in a few minutes, he can pass from summer to winter, 
from the lower to the higher regions of the atmosphere, the abode 
of eternal cold, and thence descend, at will, to the torrid or 
the arctic regions of the earth. He is therefore found at all 
seasons in the countries he inhabits, but prefers such places as 
have been mentioned above, from the great partiality he has for 
fish. 

" In procuring these, he displays, in a very singular manner, 
the genius and energy of his character, which is fierce, contempla- 
tive, daring, and tyrannical, attributes not exerted but on par- 
ticular occasions, but, when put forth, overpowering all opposition. 
Elevated on the high dead limb of some gigantic tree that com- 
mands a wide view of the neighboring shores and ocean, he seems 
calmly to contemplate the motions of the various feathered tribes 
that pursue their busy avocations below, the snow-white gulls 
slowly winnowing the air ; the busy tringce coursing along the 
sands ; trains of ducks streaming over the surface ; silent and 
watchful cranes, intent and wading ; clamorous crows ; and all the 
winged multitudes that subsist by the bounty of this vast liquid 
magazine of nature. High over all these hovers one whose action 
instantly arrests his whole attention. By his wide curvature of 
wing and sudden suspension in air, he knows him to be the Fish 
Hawk, settling over some devoted victim of the deep. His eye 
kindles at the sight ; and, balancing himself, with half-opened wings, 



54 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

on the branch, he watches the result. Down, rapid as an arrow 
from heaven, descends the distant object of his attention ; the roar 
of its wings reaching the ear as it disappears in the deep, making 
the surges foam around. At this moment, the eager looks of the 
Eagle are all ardor; and, levelling his neck for flight, he sees 
the Fish-hawk once more emerge, struggling with his prey, and 
mounting in the air with screams of exultation. These are the 
signal for our hero, who, launching into the air, instantly gives. 
chase, and soon gains on the Fish-hawk : each exerts his utmost to 
mount above the other, displaying in these rencontres the most 
elegant and sublime aerial evolutions. The unencumbered Eagle 
rapidly advances, and is just on the point of reaching his opponent, 
when, with a sudden scream, probably of despair and honest 
execration, the latter drops his fish : the Eagle, poising himself for 
a moment, as if to take a more certain aim, descends like a whirl- 
wind, snatches it in his grasp ere it reaches the water, and bears 
his ill-gotten booty silently away to the woods. 

"These predatory attacks and defensive manoeuvres of the 
Eagle and the Fish-hawk are matters of daily observation along 
the whole of our seaboard, from Georgia to New England, and 
frequently excite great interest in the spectators. Sympathy, 
however, on this as on most other occasions, generally sides with 
the honest and laborious sufferer, in opposition to the attacks 
of power, injustice, and rapacity ; qualities for which our hero is 
so generally notorious, and which, in his superior, man, are cer- 
tainly detestable. As for the feelings of the poor fish, they seem 
altogether out of the question. 

" When driven, as he sometimes is, by the combined courage 
and perseverance of the fish-hawks, from their neighborhood, and 
forced to hunt for himself, he retires more inland, in search of 
young pigs, of which he destroys great numbers. In the lower 
parts of Virginia and North Carolina, where the inhabitants raise 
vast herds of those animals, complaints of this kind are very 
general against him. He also destroys young lambs in the early 
part of spring ; and will sometimes attack old sickly sheep, aiming 
furiously at their eyes." 

i 

It generally chooses for a breeding-place a retired spot 
in the neighborhood of a tract of water. The nest is 



THE FISH-HAWK. 55 

usually placed in the fork of a large dead tree, and is 
occupied by the same pair of birds for successive years. I 
am informed, that a pair of these birds have, for a number 
of years past, made their eyrie on a shelf of an inaccessible 
cliff on the side of what is called " Diamond Mountain," a 
few miles south of the Umbagog lakes. Mr. J. A. Allen 
(Catalogue of Birds of Springfield, Mass., in "Proceedings 
of Essex Institute," vol. IV., No. 2) says that this species 
" sometimes breeds on Mount Tom, about twenty miles 
north of Springfield, Mass." These are probably, how- 
ever, exceptional cases. The nest is constructed of large 
sticks, twigs, branches of seaweeds, turf, and moss : some 
of these sticks are nearly or quite an inch in thickness. It 
is a bulky affair ; its diameter often being five feet, and its 
thickness from two to three feet. It is not much hollowed, 
and is nearly level across the top. Of numbers of eggs of 
this bird, that I have examined, I could see no material 
difference as to shape or color ; the form being nearly 
spherical, and the color a dirty yellowish-white. Length 
of specimens varies from 2.93 to 3.07 inches ; breadth, 
from 2.31 to 2.47 inches. 

PANDION, SAVIGNY. 

Pandion, SAVIGNY, Hist. Nat. d'Egypt, I. 96 (1809). 

Wings very long; general form heavy, and not adapted to vigorous or swift 
flight Rke the preceding eagles ; bill short, curved from the base, compressed ; tarsi 
thick and strong, and covered with small circular scales ; claws large, curved, very 
sharp ; toes beneath rough ; tail moderate or rather short. 

This genus contains three or four species only, nearly allied to each other, and 
inhabiting all temperate regions of the world. 

PANDION CAROLINENSIS. Bonaparte. 
The Fish-hawk. Osprey. 

Falco Carolinerms, Gm. Syst Nat., I. 263 (1788). 
Aquila piscatrix, Vieillot. Ois. d'Am. Sept., I. 29 (1807). 
Pandion Americanus, Vieillot. Gal. Ois., I. 33 (1825). 
Falco halicetus, Linnaeus. Wilson, Am. Orn., V. 14. 
Falco halicetus, Linnaeus. Aud Orn. Biog., I. 415. 



56 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Wings long; legs, toes, and claws very robust and strong. 

Adult. Head and entire under parts white ; stripe through the eye, top of the 
head, and upper parts of the body, wings and tail deep umber-brown, tail having 
about eight bands of blackish -brown ; breast with numerous cordate and circular 
spots of pale yellowish-brown ; bill and claws bluish-black ; tarsi and toes green- 
ish-yellow ; iris reddish-yellow. 

Young. Similar to the adult, but with the upper plumage edged and tipped 
with pale-brownish, nearly white ; spots on the breast more numerous and darker 
colored. 

Total length, female, about twenty-five inches ; wing, twenty-one inches ; tail, 
ten and a half inches. Male, rather smaller. 

" Soon as the sun, great ruler of the year, 
Bends to our northern climes his bright career, 
And from the caves of Ocean calls from sleep 
The finny shoals and myriads of the deep ; 
When freezing tempests back to Greenland ride, 
And day and night the equal hours divide, 
True to the season, o'er our sea-beat shore, 
The sailing Osprey high is seen to soar 
With broad, unmoving wing ; and, circling slow, 
Marks each loose straggler in the deep below, 
Sweeps down like lightning, plunges with a roar, 
And bears his struggling victim to the shore. 

The long-housed fisherman beholds with joy 
The well-known signals of his rough employ ; 
And, as he bears his nets and oars along, 
Thus hails the welcome season with a song : 



THE FISHERMAN'S HYMN. 

The Osprey sails above the sound ; 

The geese are gone, the gulls are flying; 
The herring-shoals swarm thick around ; 
The nets are launched, the boats are plying. 
Yo, ho, my hearts ! let's seek the deep, 

Raise high the song, and cheerly wish her, 
Still, as the bending net we sweep, 
' God bless the Fish-hawk and the fisher ! ' 

She brings us fish : she brings us spring, 

Good times, fair weather, warmth, and plenty ; 

Fine store of shad, trout, herring, ling, 
Sheep's-head and drum, and old-wives dainty. 



THE FISH-HAWK. 57 

Yo, ho, my hearts ! let's seek the deep, 
Ply every oar, and cheerly wish her, 

Still as the bending net we sweep, 
' God bless the Fish-hawk and the fisher ! ' 

She rears her young on yonder tree ; 

She leaves her faithful mate to mind 'em ; 
Like us, for fish, she sails to sea, 
And, plunging, shows us where to find 'em. 
Yo, ho, my hearts ! let's seek the deep, 
Ply every oar, and cheerly wish her, 
While the slow-bending net we sweep, 
' God bless the Fish-hawk and the fisher ! ' " 

ALEXANDER WILSON. 

The common and well-known bird which furnishes the 
theme of the above beautiful verses is a summer inhabitant 
of New England along the whole coast, and in the neighbor- 
hood of large sheets of water. The males arrive from the 
south about the middle of April, and the females about a 
week later. I believe that the same pair are constant to 
each other for several years : those that commence their 
matrimonial career in the spring usually mate about the 
first week in May, in our latitude. The movements of 
the male, while paying court to the female, are interesting; 
and, as Audubon has described them better than I can 
myself, I will give his description : 

" As soon as the females make their appearance, which happens 
eight or ten days after the arrival of the males, the love-season 
commences, and, soon after, incubation takes place. The loves of 
these birds are conducted in a different way from those of the 
other falcons. The males are seen playing through the air amongst 
themselves, chasing each other in sport, or sailing by the side or 
after the female which they have selected, uttering cries of joy 
and exultation, alighting on the branches of the tree on which 
their last year's nest is yet seen remaining, and doubtless congratu- 
lating each other on finding their home again. Their caresses are 
mutual. They begin to augment their habitation, or to repair the 
injuries which it may have sustained during the winter, and are 



58 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

seen sailing together towards the shores, to collect the drifted 
seaweeds, with which they line the nest anew. They alight on the 
beach, search for the dryest and largest weeds, collect a mass of 
them, clench them in their talons, and fly towards their nest, with 
the materials dangling beneath. They both alight and labor 
together. In a fortnight, the nest is complete, and the female 
deposits her eggs." 

The nest is generally placed in a large tree in the imme- 
diate vicinity of the water, either along the seashore, on the 
margins of the inland lakes, or by some large river. It is, 
however, sometimes to be seen in the interior of a wood, a 
mile or more from the water. I have concluded, that, in 
the latter case, it was on account of frequent disturbance, 
or attempts at destruction, that the birds had removed from 
their usual haunts. The nest is very large, sometimes meas- 
uring fully four feet across, and is composed of a quantity 
of materials sufficient to render its depth equal to its diam- 
eter. Large sticks, mixed with seaweeds, tufts of strong 
grass, and other materials, form its exterior, while the in- 
terior is composed of seaweeds and finer grasses. I have 
not observed that any particular species of tree is preferred 
by the Fish-hawk. It places its nest in the fork of an oak 
or a pine with equal pleasure. But I have observed that 
the tree chosen is usually of considerable size, and not un- 
frequently a decayed one. 

The Fish-hawk is gregarious, and often breeds in colonies 
of three or four nests in an area of a few acres. The males 
assist in incubation. 

I have heard of instances of as many as a dozen nests 
being found in the distance of half a mile on the coast of 
New Jersey. 

In New England, the species is not so plentiful, and sel- 
dom more than one nest can be found in one locality. The 
flight of the bird is strong, vigorous, and well sustained. 
As he flies over the ocean, at a height of perhaps fifty 



THE FISH-HAWK. 59 

feet, his long wings, as they beat the air in quick, sharp 
strokes, give the bird the appearance of being much larger 
than he really is. When he plunges into the water, he 
invariably seizes the fish, his prey, in his talons, and is 
sometimes immersed to the depth of a foot or eighteen 
inches in his efforts to capture it. He is of a peaceable 
disposition, and never molests any of his feathered neigh- 
bors. If the nest is plundered, the parent attacks the in- 
truder, and often inflicts ugly wounds in its defence. 

The eggs are usually laid before the 10th of May : they 
are generally three in number. They vary considerably, 
both in shape, size, and markings. In a majority of speci- 
mens in my collection, the ground-color is a rich reddish- 
cream, and covered with numerous blotches of different 
shades of brown. In a number of specimens, these blotches 
are confluent, and the primary color is nearly hidden. Their 
form varies from nearly spherical to ovoidal, and the dimen- 
sions from 2.28 to 2.44 inches in length, and from 1.65 to 
1.83 in breadth. 



60 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



FAMILY STRIGID^E. THE OWLS. 

Form usually short and heavy, with the head disproportionately large, and fre- 
quently furnished with erectile tufts of feathers, resembling the ears of quadrupeds. 
General organization adapted to vigorous and noiseless, but not rapid, flight, and to 
the capture of animals in the morning and evening twilight. 

Eyes usually very large, directed forwards, and, in the greater number of species, 
formed for seeing by twilight or in the night ; bill rather strong, curved, nearly 
concealed by projecting, bristle-like feathers; wings generally long, outer edges of 
primary quills fringed ; legs generally rather short, and in all species, except in one 
Asiatic genus (Ketupa), more or less feathered, generally densely; cavity of the ear 
very large ; face encircled by a more or less perfect disc of short, rigid feathers, 
which, with the large eyes, gives to those birds an entirely peculiar and frequently 
catlike expression. Female larger than the male. 



Sub-Family BUBONIN^E. The Horned Owls. 

Head large, with erectile and prominent ear-tufts ; eyes large ; facial disc not 
complete above the eyes and bill; legs, feet, and claws usually very strong. 



BUBO, CUVIER. 

Bubo, CUVIER, Regne Animal, I. 331 (1817). 

Size large; general form very robust and powerful; head large, with conspicuous 
ear-tufts ; eyes very large ; wings long ; tail short ; legs and toes very strong, densely 
feathered; claws very strong; bill rather short, strong, curved, covered at base by 
projecting feathers. 

This genus includes the large Horned Owls, or Cat Owls, as they are sometimes 
called. These birds are most numerous in Asia and Africa, and there are in all 
countries about fifteen species. 



BUBO VIEGINIANUS. Bonaparte. 
The Great Horned Owl. 

Strix Virginiana, Gm. Syst. Nat, I. 287 (1788). Bohap. Syn., p. 37. Nutt, I. 
124. Wilson, Audubon, and others. 

Bubo articus, Swains. Faun. Bor. Am. Birds, p. 86 (1831). 

DESCRIPTION. 

Adult. Large and strongly organized; ear-tufts large, erectile; bill strong, 
fully curved; wing rather long; third quill usually longest ; tail short; legs and 
toes robust, and densely covered with short, downy feathers ; claws very strong, 
sharp, curved; variable in plumage, from nearly white to dark-brown, usually 
with the upper parts dark-brown, every feather mottled, and with irregular trans- 
verse lines of pale-ashy and reddish-fulvous, the latter being the color of all the 
plumage at the bases of the feathers; ear-tufts dark-brown, nearly black, edged on 



THE GREAT HORNED OWL. 61 

their inner webs with dark-fulvous; a black spot above the eye; radiating feathers 
behind the eye, varying in color from nearly white to dark reddish-fulvous, usually 
the latter; feathers of the facial disc tipped with black; throat and neck before, white; 
breast with wide longitudinal stripes of black; other under parts variegated with 
white and fulvous, and every feather having transverse, narrow lines of dark-brown ; 
middle of the abdomen frequently, but not always, white; legs and toes varying 
from white to dark-fulvous, usually pale-fulvous ; in most specimens unspotted, but 
frequently, and probably always in fully mature specimens, with transverse, narrow 
bars of dark-brown; quills brown, with wide transverse .bands of cinereous, and 
usually tinged on the inner webs with pale fulvous; tail the same, with the fulvous 
predominating on the outer feathers; iris yellow; bill and claws bluish-black. 

Dimensions. Female, length, twenty-one to twenty-five inches ; wing, fourteen 
and a half to sixteen ; tail, ten inches. Male, eighteen to twenty-one inches ; wing, 
fourteen to fifteen ; tail, nine inches. 

THIS well-known bird is a resident in all the New-England 
States throughout the year. It is not so common in Mas- 
sachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island as in the other 
States, where, in the vast tracts of forest, it is quite abun- 
dant ; so much so, that I have heard several of them at the 
same time making " night hideous with their discordant, 
mournful cries." Never shall I forget a serenade I once had 
the pleasure of hearing in the State of Maine, in which this 
bird maintained the basso. We were encamped on the 
shores of Lake Umbagog : our tent was pitched on a bluff 
overlooking the lake, and behind us was the deep, dark 
forest of pines and hemlocks. We had just got fairly into 
our first nap, the sweet follower of our day's toils, when we 
were awakened by the hootings of one of these owls, " Waugh, 
hoo, hoo, hoo!" or "Who cooks for you?" as the Western 
traveller understood it, which seemed to fye addressed to us 
from a tree almost over our tent. We listened : presently 
another took up the theme, and then both together. They 
had scarcely finished their duet, when, from away up the 
lake, came the shrill, mournful cry or scream of the Loon : 
this was continued and answered by others, until, with owls 
and loons, the night was vocal with melodious sounds. 
After this had died away, and all was still, there came from 
a bush near our tent the almost heavenly song of the White- 
throated Sparrow, the " Nightingale of the North." One 



62 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

cannot imagine the effect produced by the contrast : he must 
be on the spot in the dark night, and, through the sighing of 
the winds amid the grand old trees, hear the owls and loons ; 
then, silence, broken by the beautiful song of the Nightin- 
gale. 

The flight of the Great Horned Owl is rapid, noiseless, 
and vigorous : he passes through the mazes of the forest 
with great dexterity and ease ; and, when flying above the 
trees, frequently soars in the manner of the Hawks. He is 
very destructive among domestic poultry, frequently pouncing 
on fowls that are roosting on trees in the night, and bearing 
them off in his powerful grasp. This habit has rendered 
him obnoxious to the farmers, who lose no opportunity for 
destroying him. Rabbits, grouse, and other birds, fall vic- 
tims to his rapacity ; and I have often shot individuals of 
this species, whose feathers were so impregnated with the 
peculiar odor of the skunk as to be unbearable at a near 
approach. 

When a flock of crows discover the presence of one of 
these birds, they immediately collect from all quarters, and 
attack him on every side, uttering their harsh, discordant 
cries : the owl is kept dancing and dodging on the limb, his 
perch, in a ludicrous manner ; if he takes to flight, he is 
pursued by his enemies, and soon forced to alight. I have 
often been enabled to procure a specimen, by following 
a noisy mob of this description ; just as we often are able 
to secure one of the smaller owls by proceeding to the copse 
where numbers of small birds cat-birds, chewinks, and 
thrushes are scolding at their enemy. 

I have had several specimens of the Great Horned Owl 
in captivity : they make amusing pets. When fed with raw 
meat, they seldom take it freely from the hand or tongs ; 
and often can be made to swallow it, only by our opening 
their bills, and putting in the meat. They seem to have 
the power of seeing by daylight ; for, if a living animal is 
introduced into their cage, they instantly seize it. I have 




GREAT HORNED OWL, Bubo Virginianus. Bonaparte. 



THE GREAT HORNED OWL. 63 

often put iii a dead mouse, with a string attached to it, 
by which I dragged it across the cage: an owl instantly 
seized it, as if it were alive, and ate it. A living bat ( Ves- 
pertilio Carolimnsis) , on being introduced, was instantly 
seized, but, after being killed, was rejected. The strong 
musky scent peculiar to these animals may have been the 
reason for the owl's not eating it : if not, I cannot account 
for it. 

In eating its prey, the Owl stands on it with both feet, and 
tears it with its bill : if the piece torn off is large, the head 
is thrown back, and the repeated contraction of the muscles 
of the throat forces it down. In holding a mouse or other 
small object, all the talons of one foot are clenched in it, 
while the other foot is left free. On being approached, this 
Owl, as indeed do almost all the others, faces the intruder, 
and follows his motions by turning his head, at the same 
time snapping his bill. 

In drinking, the bill is immersed, and repeated swallows 
are taken, after the manner of the pigeons. 

The Great Horned Owl chooses for its breeding-places the 
most retired and inaccessible places in the deep forests ; and 
the student might search for weeks for its nest, and not find 
it unless by accident. It is usually built in a fork of a tall 
tree, but is sometimes made in a hollow of a tree or in the 
top of a stub or stump. Audubon found it twice in fissures 
of rocks. It is constructed of sticks and twigs, and is lined 
with leaves, grasses, and moss. The eggs are usually three 
in number ; sometimes four, rarely more : they are of a 
white color, with a very faint yellowish tint ; their shape is 
nearly spherical, and they average in size 2.25 inches by 
2 inches. 

A nest that I found a few miles from Marietta, Ohio, 
about the middle of March, 1865, was built in e tall, hollow 
stub of a beech, which was cut down for the purpose of 
being examined. It was built of twigs and sticks, in num- 
bers sufficient to fill the cavity : in the middle of these were 



64 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

arranged a few leaves and pieces of moss, and a few feath- 
ers from the body of the parent ; on this nest were found 
three young birds, apparently but a few days old, as they 
were covered with gray down, and a few grayish feath- 
ers. On being taken in the hand, they clutched it tight 
with their claws, and squatted perfectly still. The iris 
of their eyes was a light-grayish color : the inside of their 
mouths, eyelids, and ears, were yellowish. At the foot of 
the stump were found small pellets of feathers, small bones, 
and hairs. I have heard of the deserted nest of a crow or 
hawk being occupied by this Owl ; but usually it builds its 
own nest. 

SCOPS, SAVIGNY. 

SAVIGNY, Nat. Hist. Egypt, I. 105 (1809). 

Size small; ear-tufts conspicuous; head large; facial disc imperfect in front and 
about the eyes; bill short, nearly covered by projecting feathers; wings long; tail 
rather short, and frequently curved inwards; tarsi rather long, more or less fully 
covered with short feathers; toes long, generally partially covered with hair-like 
feathers; head large. 

General form short and compact. This genus contains twenty-five to thirty 
species of small owls, inhabiting all parts of the world except Australia. 

SCOPS ASIO. Bonaparte. 
The Mottled Owl ; Screech Owl ; Red Owl. 

Strix Asio, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. 132 (1766). Audubon, Wilson, and others. 

Strix ncevia, Gm. Syst. Nat, I. 289 (1788). 

Bubo striatus, Vieillot. Ois. d'Am. Sept., I. 54 (1808). 

DESCRIPTION. 

"Short and compact; ear-tufts prominent; tail short; tarsi rather long. 

"Adult. Upper parts pale ashy-brown, with longitudinal lines of brownish-black, 
and mottled irregularly with the same and with cinereous ; under parts ashy-white, 
with longitudinal stripes of brownish-black, and with transverse lines of the same 
color; face, throat, and tarsi ashy-white, irregularly lined and mottled with pale- 
brownish; quills brown, with transverse bands, nearly white on the outer webs; 
tail pale ashy-brown, with about ten transverse narrow bands of pale-cinereous; 
under wing coverts white, the larger tipped with black ; bill and claws light horn- 
color; irides yellow. 

" Younger. Entire upper parts pale brownish-red, with longitudinal lines of 
brownish-black, especially on the head and scapulars; face, throat, under wing 
coverts, and tarsi reddish-white ; quills reddish-brown ; tail rufous, with bands of 
brown, darker on the inner webs. 



THE MOTTLED OWL. 65 

" Young. Entire plumage transversely striped with ashy-white and pale-brown; 
wings and tail pale-rufous. 

" Total length, nine and a half to ten inches; wing, seven; tail, three and a half 
inches. Sexes nearly alike in size and color. 

" The stages of plumage described above have been regarded as characterizing 
distinct species ; and they do present a problem scarcely to be considered as fullv 
solved. This bird pairs and rears young while in the red plumage; and it is not 
unusual to find a mottled male and red female associated, or the reverse." JOHN 
CASSIN. 

As with many of the other birds of prey, the different 
plumages in which this owl is taken have caused great con- 
fusion ; and, as Mr. Cassin truly remarks, the matter is not 
yet settled beyond doubt. The 
observation has generally been, 
that the young birds are in the TV 
red plumage ; but I have cer- ^ 
tainly known of one instance 
when the young bird was in 
the gray. A nest was found 
in a hollow tree in Milton, 
Mass., in which there were 
three young birds. They were 
permitted to remain ; and I vis- 
ited the nest as often as every 
two days until they flew off. 
The last time that I saw them, 
the day before they left the 
nest, they were fully fledged, and they had very few marks 
of brownish-red in their plumage. Whether this was an 
exceptional case, I know not ; but I will present the obser- 
vations of different ornithologists which conflict with my 
own. I will also quote Audubon's description of the habits 
of the bird, as it is better than I can give from my own 
experience, though it corresponds to my observations so far 
as they go. He says, 

" The flight of the Mottled Owl is smooth, rapid, protracted, and 
noiseless. It rises at times afrove the top branches of the highest 
of our forest trees whilst in pursuit of large beetles ; and at other 

5 




66 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

times sails low and swiftly over the fields, or through the woods, 
in search of small birds, field-mice, moles, or wood-rats, from which 
it chiefly derives its subsistence. On alighting, which it does 
plumply, the Mottled Owl immediately bends its body, turns its 
head to look behind it, performs a curious nod, utters its notes, 
then shakes and plumes itself, and resumes its flight in search of 
prey. It now and then, while on the wing, produces a clicking 
sound with its mandibles, but more frequently when perched near 
its mate or young. This I have thought was done by the bird to 
manifest its courage, and let the hearer know that it is not to be 
meddled with ; although few birds of prey are more gentle when 
seized, as it will suffer a person to touch its feathers and caress it 
without attempting to bite or strike with its talons, unless at rare 
intervals. 

" The notes of this Owl are uttered in a tremulous, doleful 
manner, and somewhat resemble the chattering of the teeth of a 
person under the influence of extreme cold, although much louder. 
They are heard at a distance of several hundred yards, and by 
some people are thought to be of ominous import." 

These notes almost exactly resemble the whimpering 
whine of a small dog, for which I have mistaken them on 
different occasions. 

"The little fellow is generally found about farm-houses, or- 
chards, and gardens. It alights on the roof, the fence, or the 
garden-gate, and utters its mournful ditty, at intervals, for hours at 
a time, as if it were in a state of great suffering ; although this is 
far from being the case, the song of all birds being an indication 
of content and happiness. In a state of confinement, it utters its 
notes with as much satisfaction as if at liberty. They are chiefly . 
heard during the latter part of winter, that being the season of 
love, when the male bird is particularly attentive to the fair one 
which excites his tender emotions, and around which he flies and 
struts much in the manner of the common Pigeon, adding numer- 
ous nods and bows, the sight of which is very amusing. 

" The young remain in the nest until they are able to fly. At 
first, they are covered with a downy substance of a dull yellowish- 
white. By the middle of August, they are fully feathered, and 



THE MOTTLED OWL. 67 

are then generally of a reddish-brown, although considerable differ- 
ences exist between individuals, as I have seen some of a deep- 
chocolate color, and others nearly black. The feathers change 
their colors as the pairing season advances, and in the first spring 
the bird is in the perfect dress." 

J. P. Norris, writing in the " Country Gentleman," 
Jan. 11, 1866, says that he secured two young birds of this 
species when covered with down, and kept them until they 
had become feathered, when their plumage was decidedly 
red in color. 

J. P. Giraud, in his " Birds of Long Island," gives a 
letter from J. G. Bell, of New York, in which that gentle- 
man says, that he has taken the young birds from the nest, 
covered with grayish-brown, and kept them through their 
first plumage, which was red in color. 

These and other writers seem to agree that the red plum- 
age is that of the bird in the first year. I leave it to 
future experimenters to determine the matter beyond a 
doubt. 

This bird feeds largely on the injurious night-flying 
moths and beetles. Numbers of specimens that I have 
examined, contained in their stomachs parts of these in- 
sects and small mammals : very seldom indeed did they 
have feathers or other parts of birds. 

The Mottled Owl selects for a nesting-place a hollow 
tree, often in the orchard, and commences laying at about 
the first of May, in the latitude of the middle of Massachu- 
setts. The nest is made at the bottom of the hollow, and 
is constructed of grass, leaves, moss, and sometimes a few 
feathers. It is not elaborately made,' being nothing more 
than a heap of soft materials. The eggs are usually four 
in number : they are pure-white, smooth, and nearly spher- 
ical in form. Their length varies from 1.30 to 1.37 inch; 
breadth from 1.18 to 1.25 inch. Both parents assist in 
incubation, and the same pair occupy the nest for succeed- 
ing years. 



68 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



OTUS, CUVIER. 

Otus, CUVIER, Regne Animal, I. 327 (1817). 

General form longer and more slender than in the preceding genera ; head mod- 
erate; ear-tufts long, erectile; bill rather short, curved from the base; facial disc 
more perfect than in the preceding; wings long; tail moderate; tarsi and toes cov- 
ered with short feathers ; claws long, curved ; eyes rather small, and surrounded by 
radiating feathers. 

This genus contains ten or twelve species of various countries, all of which are 
more handsome birds than are usually met with in this family. 



OTUS WILSONIANUS. Lesson. 
The Long-eared Owl. 

Otus Wilsonianus, Lesson. Traite d'Orn., I. 110 (1831). 

Otus Americanus, Bonaparte. Comp. List, 7 (1838). Syn., 37. 

Strix otus, Wilson. Bonaparte's edition, 449. 

Strix otus, Linnaeus. Aud. Orn. Biog., IV. 572. Nuttall, I. 130. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Ear-tufts long and conspicuous; eyes rather small; wings long; tarsi and toes 
densely feathered; upper parts mottled with brownish-black, fulvous, and ashy- 
white, the former predominating; breast pale-fulvous, with longitudinal stripes of 
brownish-black; abdomen white; every feather with a wide longitudinal stripe, and 
with transverse stripes of brownish-black; legs and toes pale-fulvous, usually 
unspotted, but frequently with irregular narrow transverse stripes of dark-brown ; 
eye nearly encircled with black; other feathers of the face ashy-white, with minute 
lines of black ; ear-tufts brownish-black edged with fulvous and ashy- white; quills 
pale-fulvous at their bases, with irregular transverse bands of brown; inferior 
coverts of the wing pale-fulvous, frequently nearly white ; the larger widely tipped 
with black; tail brown, with several irregular transverse bands of ashy-fulvous, 
which are mottled, as on the quills; bill and claws dark horn-color; irides yellow. 

Total length, female, about fifteen inches ; wing, eleven to eleven and a half; tail, 
six inches. Male rather smaller. 

This species is rather common in New England, rather 
preferring the less settled districts to the others. It is 
eminently nocturnal in its habits, and has the power of see- 
ing in the daytime to a less degree than any of the other 
species with which I am acquainted. 

A specimen that I once had, as a pet, could not see my 
hand as it approached him, and would permit my finger to 
touch his eye before he drew over it the thin nictitating 
membrane given to all birds to protect this delicate organ. 

I do not remember of ever hearing this owl utter a cry 



THE LONG-EARED OWL. 69 

in its nocturnal rambles ; and I think that it hunts in 
silence, except, perhaps, in the mating season. 

The specimen in my possession would not eat in the day- 
time ; and, if I fed it then, was obliged to push the food down 
its throat with my finger : at night, it fed readily on raw 
meat, but was rather loath to eat when I was by, or when a 
lamp was near its cage. I had water always accessible to 
it, but never saw it drink, and think, that, in the space of 
two months, it drank not more than two or three times ; or, 
if it did, the quantity it took was so small as not to be 
appreciable. 

Notwithstanding the comparative abundance of this spe- 
cies, its breeding habits are not well known. I have been 
so fortunate as to find several nests, all of which were built 
in forks of tall pines, and constructed of twigs and leaves. 
Audubon says : 

" The Long-eared Owl is careless as to the situation in which 
its young are to be reared, and generally accommodates itself with 
the abandoned nest of some other bird that proves of sufficient 
size, whether it be high or low, in the fissure of a rock or on the 
ground. Sometimes, however, it makes a nest itself; and this I 
found to be the case in one instance near the Juniata River, in 
Pennsylvania, where it was composed of green twigs, with the 
leaflets adhering, and lined with fresh grass and wool, but without 
any feathers." 

Wilson describes its breeding habits as follows : 

" About six or seven miles below Philadelphia, and not far from 
the Delaware, is a low swamp, thickly covered with trees, and 
inundated during a great part of the year. This place is the resort 
of great numbers of the qua bird (Night Heron), where they build 
in large companies. On the 25th of April, while wading through 
the dark recesses of this place, observing the habits of these birds, 
I discovered a Long-eared Owl, which had taken possession of one 
of their nests, and was setting. On mounting to the nest, I found 
it contained four eggs ; and, breaking one of them, the young 
appeared almost ready to leave the shell. There were numbers of 



70 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

the qua birds' nests on the adjoining trees all around, and one 
of them actually on the same tree." 

The reader will perceive from the above account of the 
breeding habits of this bird, that it is variable in its choice 
of a nesting-place, although every nest that I have found, 
or known of, was built in tall pines, and constructed as 
above ; and I have known instances where the same nest 
was used for successive breeding seasons. 

The eggs are generally four in number, seldom more. 
They are nearly spherical in form, and of a pure-white 
color. Dimensions of specimens in my collection vary from 
1.40 to 1.60 inch in length, by from 1.30 to 1.40 inch in 
breadth. 

BRACHYOTUS, GOULD. 

Bracliyotus, GOULD, Proc. Zool. Soc., London, 1837, 10. 

Ear-tufts very short and inconspicuous ; general form rather strong ; wings long ; 
tail moderate ; legs rather long, which, with the toes, are fully covered with short 
feathers ; claws long, very sharp, and rather slender ; head moderate ; eyes rather 
small, surrounded by radiating feathers; facial disc imperfect on the forehead and 
above the eyes ; tail moderate. 

This genus contains four or five species only, the two best known of which are 
the European. 

BRACHYOTUS CASSINII. Brewer. 
The Short-eared Owl. 

BracJiyotus Cassinii, Brewer. Proc. Boston Soc. of Nat. Hist. 
Strix brachyotus, Forster. Phil. Trans., London, LXII. 384 (1772). 
Strix brachyotus, Linnaeus. Wilson and others. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Ear-tufts very short; entire plumage buff or pale- fulvous; ever}' feather on the 
upper parts with a wide longitudinal stripe of dark-brown, which color predominates 
on the back; under parts paler, frequently nearly white on the abdomen, with 
longitudinal stripes of brownish-black, most numerous on the breast, very narrow 
and less numerous on the abdomen and flanks ; legs and toes usually of a deeper 
shade of the same color as the abdomen ; quills pale reddish-fulvous at their bases, 
brown at their ends, with wide irregular bands and large spots of reddish-fulvous ; 
tail pale reddish-fulvous, with about five irregular transverse bands of dark-brown, 
which color predominates on the two central feathers ; under tail coverts usually 
nearly white; throat white; eyes enclosed by large spots of brownish-black; ear- 
tufts brown, edged with fulvous ; bill and claws dark ; irides yellow. 

Total length, female, about fifteen inches; wing, twelve; tail, six inches. Male 
rather smaller. 



THE GRAY OWLS. 71 

I regret being unable to add any thing to our knowledge 
of the history of this bird. I have had no opportunities 
for observing its habits, and know of nothing that has been 
noted recently which will add to our information. It is 
not common in any part of New England, and is, I believe, 
more often met with in the neighborhood of the seacoast 
than elsewhere. I have never met with its nest, but have 
no doubt that it breeds in these States, as specimens are 
occasionally taken here in summer. 

Richardson says that its nest is formed of withered grass 
and moss, and is built on the ground. Dr. Bryant (" Pro- 
ceedings of Boston Society of Natural History," January, 
1857) describes a nest found on an island in the Bay of 
Fundy as follows : 

" A nest of this bird was found by Mr. Cabot in the midst of a 
dry peaty bog. It was built on the ground, in a very slovenly 
manner, of small sticks and a few feathers, and presented hardly 
any excavation. It contained four eggs on the point of being 
hatched." 

The eggs of this species are of a pure-white^ color, and 
vary in dimensions from 1.65 inch by 1.25 inch to 1.50 inch 
by 1.23 inch. 



Sub-Family SYRNINJE. The Gray Owls. 

Head large, with very small and concealed ear-tufts, or entirely without. Facial 
disc nearly perfect; eyes small for the family of owls: wings rather short, or not so 
long as in the preceding ; tarsi and toes generally fully feathered. This group con- 
tains some of the largest of owls; generally, however, the size is medium, and fre- 
quently small. 

SYRNIUM, SAVIGNY. 

Syrnium, SAVIGNY, Nat. Hist. Egypt, I. 112 (1809). 

Size usually large ; head large, without ear-tufts ; eyes rather small ; facial disc 
somewhat imperfect in front; bill strong, curved from its base; wings moderate, 
somewhat rounded; fourth and fifth quills longest; tail rather long, wide, and usu- 
ally rounded at the end ; legs moderate, or rather long, which, with the toes, are 
densely covered with short feathers; claws long, strong, very sharp. 



72 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

Species of this genus inhabit principally the northern parts of the world, and are 
generally characterized by the prevalence of gray or cinereous, of various shades, in 
their plumage. 

SYRNIUM CINEEEUM. Auduban. 
The Great Gray Owl. 

Strix cinerea, Gm. Syst. Nat, I. 291 (1788). Aud. Orn. Biog., IV. 364. 
Strix acclimator, Bartram. Travels, 289 (1790). 

DESCRIPTION. 

The largest Owl of North America. Head very large ; eyes small ; tail rather 
long; upper parts smoky or ashy brown, mottled and transversely barred with 
ashy-white; under parts ashy-white, with numerous longitudinal stripes of dark 
ashy-brown predominating on the breast, and with transverse stripes of the same on 
the abdomen, legs, and under tail coverts ; quills brown, with about five wide, irregu- 
lar bands of ashy-white ; tail brown, with five or six wide, irregular bands of ashy- 
white, mottled with dark-brown; feathers of the disc on the neck tipped with white; 
eye nearly encircled by a black spot ; radiating feathers around the eye, with regular 
transverse narrow bars of dark-brown and ashy-white ; bill pale-yellow ; claws pale 
yellowish-white, darker at their tips ; iris bright-yellow. 

Total length, twenty-five to thirty inches ; wing, eighteen ; tail, twelve to fifteen 
inches. 

This bird is an extremely rare winter visitor in New Eng- 
land ; appearing only in the southern districts of these 
States, in Massachusetts even, in very severe seasons. I 
never saw one alive ; have, of course, never seen its nest, 
and can add nothing at all to our knowledge of its habits. 
It breeds in the most northern regions ; and, according to 
Dr. Brewer, " nests in high trees." Its eggs I have never 
seen. Audubon gives the following account of this spe- 
cies : 

"The comparatively small size of this bird's eyes renders it 
probable that it hunts by day ; and the remarkable smallness of its 
feet and claws induces me to think that it does not prey on large 
animals. Dr. Richardson says, that ' it is by no means a rare bird 
in the fur countries ; being an inhabitant of all the woody districts 
lying between the Lake Superior and latitudes 67 or 68, and 
between Hudson's Bay and the Pacific. It is common on the 
borders of Great Bear Lake ; and there, and in the higher parallels 
of latitude, it must pursue its prey, during the summer months, by 
daylight. It keeps, however, within the woods, and does not fre- 
quent the barren grounds, like the Snowy Owl ; nor is it so often met 




BARRED OWL, Syrnium nebulosum. Gray. 



THE BARRED OWL. 73 

with in broad daylight as the Hawk Owl, but hunts principally when 
the sun is low : indeed, it is only at such times, when the recesses 
of the woods are deeply shadowed, that the American Hare, and the 
murine animals on which the Cinereous Owl chiefly preys, come 
forth to feed.' " 

Audubon speaks of a gentleman in Salem, Mass., who 
kept one of these birds alive for several months : it was fed 
on fish and small birds, of which it was very fond. It uttered 
at times a tremulous cry, not unlike that of the little Screech- 
owl (Scops asio), and showed a great antipathy to cats and 
dogs. 

SYENIUM NEBULOSUM. Gray. 
The Barred Owl. 

Stnx nebulosa, Forster. Trans. Philosoph. Soc., London, LXII. 386, 424 (1772). 

Strix nebulosa, Linnaeus. Wilson, 304. Bonap. Syn., 38. Nutt., I. 133. Aud., 
I. 242. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Head large, without ear-tufts; tail rather long; upper parts light ashy-brown, 
frequently tinged with dull-yellow, with transverse narrow bands of white, most 
numerous on the head and neck behind, broader on the back ; breast with transverse 
bands of brown and white ; abdomen ashy-white, with longitudinal stripes of brown ; 
tarsi and toes ashy-white, tinged with fulvous, generally without spots, but frequently 
mottled and banded with dark-brown; quills brown, with six or seven transverse 
bars, nearly pure-white on the outer webs, and ashy-fulvous on the inner webs ; tail 
light-brown, with about five bands of white, generally tinged with reddish-yellow; 
discal feathers tipped with white; face ashy-white, with lines of brown, and a spot 
of black in front of the eye; throat dark-brown; claws horn-color; bill pale-yellow; 
irides bluish-black. Sexes alike. 

Total length, about twenty inches; wing, thirteen to fourteen; tail, nine inches. 
Sexes nearly of the same size. 

This Owl is rather common in most sections of New Eng- 
land ; is more often seen in the more southern localities, 
and less frequently met with in sections where the Great 
Horned Owl is most abundant, and vice versd. Its flight is 
soft and rapid, the great breadth of the wings and compara- 
tive lightness of the body giving it remarkable speed. Its 
vision is almost as good in the daylight as in the night, and 
surpasses that of most of our other owls. A specimen that 
I kept alive for a few weeks, often, in the daytime, flew about 
the room in which his cage was placed : he alighted with 



74 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

ease on the backs of chairs, or on other pieces of furniture ; 
seldom miscalculating the distance or missing a footing, as 
many of the other owls would in the same circumstances. 
This bird soon became tame, and would accept food at almost 
any time in the day or night : on receiving a piece of meat, 
he sometimes attempted to clutch it with his foot, and my 
fingers often had narrow escapes x from his sharp, crooked 
talons. Usually, he would seize it with his mouth, and, if 
not too large, swallow it without tearing : if the piece was 
more bulky than he could manage, he stood on it, and tore 
it with his beak. Fish he invariably rejected, but greedily 
ate mice and small birds : a dead pigeon, that I put in his 
cage, was untouched for several days. He died in conse- 
quence of a hurt he received in flying against a window. 

The Barred Owl subsists principally upon small birds, 
field-mice, and reptiles. He is frequently seen, in early 
twilight, flying over the low meadow-lands, searching for the 
mice that dwell there : he usually takes a direct course, and 
sometimes flies so low that the tips of his wings seem to 
touch the grass. When he discovers his prey, he drops on 
it instantly, folding his wings and protruding his feet, in 
which his quarry is always secured : he often captures frogs 
that are sitting on the shores of ponds and rivers ; but I am 
inclined to think that the statement, quoted by Audubon, 
that he often catches fish, is incorrect. The Barred Owl 
usually nests in high trees, placing the structure of sticks 
and leaves in a crotch near the trunk. The eggs are usually 
three in number. I have one only in my collection : this is 
pure-white, almost globular, and, except in shape, hardly 
distinguishable from the egg of the domestic hen. It is 
2 inches in length by 1.68 in breadth. 

NYCTALE, BREHM. 

Nyctale, BREHM, Isis (1828), 1271. 

Size small ; head with very small ear-tufts, only observable when erected ; eyes 
small; bill moderate, or not very strong; facial disc nearly perfect; wings rather 
long; tail short; legs and toes densely feathered. 



THE SAW-WHET OWL. 75 

Contains five species of small and quite peculiar owls, four of which are Ameri- 
can, and one European. 

NYCTALE EICHARDSONII. Bonaparte. 
The Sparrow Owl. 

Nyctale Richardsonii, Bonaparte. Comp. List, 7 (1838). 

" Strix Tengmalmi, Gm." Aud. Orn. Biog., IV. 659, and other American authors. 

DESCRIPTION. 

The largest of this genus ; wings long ; upper parts pale reddish-brown, tinged 
with olive, and with partially concealed spots of white, most numerous on the head 
and neck behind, scapulars, and rump ; head in front with numerous spots of white ; 
face white, with a spot of black in front of the eye ; throat with brown stripes ; 
under parts ashy-white, with longitudinal stripes of pale reddish-brown ; legs and 
toes pale-yellowish, nearly white, sometimes barred and spotted with brown ; quills 
brown, with small spots of white on their outer edges, and large spots of the same 
on their inner webs; tail brown, every feather with about ten pairs of white spots; 
bill light-yellowish horn-color; irides yellow. 

Total length, about ten and a half inches ; wing, seven and a half inches ; tail, 
four and a half inches. 

This species is an exceedingly rare winter visitor in New 
England. I have never met with it alive, and can give 
from my own observation no account of its habits. Dr. 
Richardson, in the " Fauna Boreali-Americana," says : 

" When it accidentally wanders abroad in the day, it is so much 
dazzled by the light of the sun as to become stupid ; and it may 
then be easily caught by the hand. Its cry hi the night is a 
single melancholy note, repeated at intervals of a minute or two. 
Mr. Hutchins says that it builds a nest of grass half-way up a 
pine-tree, and lays two white eggs in the month of May." 

NYCTALE ACADICA. Bonaparte. 
The Saw-Whet Owl; Acadican Owl. 

Strix Acadica, Gm. Syst. Nat., I. 296 (1788). Bonap. Syn., 38. Nuttall and 
other authors. 

" Strix passerina, Linnaeus." Wilson, Am. Orn., IV. 66. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Small; wings long; tail short; upper parts reddish-brown, tinged with olive; 
head in front with fine lines of white, and on the neck behind, rump, and scapulars, 
with large, partially concealed spots of white ; face ashy-white ; throat white ; under 
parts ashy-white, with longitudinal stripes of pale reddish-brown ; under coverts 



76 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

of wings and tail white; quills brown, with small spots of white on their outer 
edges, and large spots of the same on their inner webs ; tail brown, every feather 
with about three pairs of spots of white ; bill and claws dark ; irides yellow. 

Total length, about seven and a half to eight inches; wing, five and a half 
inches ; tail, two and three quarters to three inches. Sexes nearly the same size, 
and alike in colors. 

This species is also quite rare in New England ; but, as 
it is occasionally found in the summer months, is probably 
a resident here through -the year. Says Audubon, in his 
description of this bird, which is very full and perfect : 

" The Little Owl is known in Massachusetts by the name of the 
( Saw-whet,' the sound of its love-notes bearing a great resemblance 
to the noise produced by filing the teeth of a large saw. These 
notes, when coming, as they frequently do, from the interior of a 
deep forest, produce a very peculiar effect on the traveller, who, 
not being aware of their real nature, expects, as he advances on his 
route, to meet with shelter under a saw-mill at no great distance. 
Until I shot the bird in the act, I had myself been more than once 
deceived in this manner. 

" A nest of our Little Owl, which I found near the city of Natchez, 
was placed in the broken stump of a small decayed tree, not more 
than four feet from the ground. I was attracted to it by the snor- 
ing notes of the young, which sounded as if at a considerable 
elevation; and I was so misled by them, that, had not my dog 
raised himself to smell at the hole where the brood lay concealed, 
I might not have discovered them. In this instance, the number 
was five. It was in the beginning of June ; and the little things, 
which were almost ready to fly, looked exceedingly neat and beauti- 
ful. Their parents I never saw, although I frequently visited the 
nest before they left it. The Little Owl breeds more abundantly 
near the shores of the Atlantic than in the interior of the country, 
and is frequent in the swamps of the States of Maryland and New 
Jersey during the whole year. Wherever I have found the young 
or the eggs placed in a hollow tree, they were merely deposited on 
the rotten particles of wood ; and, when in an old crow's nest, the 
latter did not appear to have undergone any repair. Being quite 
nocturnal, it shows great uneasiness when disturbed by day, and 
flies off in a hurried, uncertain manner, throwing itself into the 



THE SNOWY OWL. 77 

first covert that it meets with, where it is not difficult to catch it, 
provided the necessary caution and silence be used. Towards 
dusk, it becomes full of animation, flies swiftly gliding, as it 
were over the low grounds like a little spectre, and pounces on 
small quadrupeds and birds with the quickness of thought." 

The Saw-whet Owl nests in hollow trees, in cavities of 
rocks, and in deserted crows' and woodpeckers' nests. The 
eggs are from three to five or six in number ; and, according 
to Dr. Brewer, are of a bright, clear white, and more like a 
woodpecker's than an owl's in their crystalline clearness. 
Dimensions, ! T 2 g- by \% inch. 



Sub-Family NYCTEININJE. The Day Owls. 

General form compact and robust; head moderate, withouf ear-tufts; wings and 
tail rather long ; tarsi strong, which, with the toes, are more densely covered than 
in any other division of this family. 

This division embraces two species only, which inhabit the arctic regions of both 
continents ; migrating southward in the winter. 

NYCTEA, STEPHENS. 

Nyctea, STEPHENS, Cont. of Shaw's Zool., XIII. 62 (1826). 

Large ; head rather large, without ear-tufts ; no facial disc ; legs rather short, and 
with the toes covered densely with long hair-like feathers, nearly concealing the 
claws; bill short, nearly concealed by projecting feathers, very strong; wings long; 
tail moderate, or rather long, wide ; claws strong, fully curved. Contains one spe- 
cies only. 

NYCTEA NIVEA. Gray. 
The Snowy Owl. 

Strix nivea, Daudin. Traite d'Orn., 190 (1800). 

Strix nyctea, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. I. 132 (1766). 

" Strix nyctea, Linnams." " Bonap. Syn., 36. Nutt. I. 116. Aud. II. 135. Wil- 
son and others. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill nearly concealed by projecting plumes; eyes large; entire plumage white, fre- 
quently with a few spots or imperfect bands, only on the upper parts dark-brown, and 
on the under parts with a few irregular and imperfect bars of the same; quills and 
tail with a few spots or traces of bands of the same dark-brown ; the prevalence of 



78 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

the dark-brown color varies much in different specimens ; frequently both upper and 
under parts are very distinctly banded transversely, and sometimes this color pre- 
dominates on the back ; plumage of the legs and toes pure snowy-white ; bill and 
claws horn-color ; irides yellow. 

Total length, female, about twenty-six inches; wing, seventeen to nineteen; 
tail, ten inches. Male, about twenty-two inches; wing, seventeen; tail, nine inches. 

As a winter visitor, principally on the seacoast, this bird 
is a rather common species. It is often taken on the islands 
in Massachusetts Bay, where it feeds on fish that have been 
thrown up on the shore by the tide, birds, wounded sea- 
fowl, and even dead animals, as I am informed by a reliable 
person who once shot one while perched on and eating 
a dead horse on the beach. The flight of this Owl is rapid 
and protracted. I have seen an individual chase and cap- 
ture a Snow Bunting (J 5 . nivalis) from a flock; and once 
saw one make a swoop at a flock of poultry which had come 
out from their house on a fine day, but which immediately 
retreated on the appearance of their enemy. The Snowy 
Owl hunts both in the daylight and twilight: he seems to 
prefer cloudy, gloomy days to bright ones, and is most 
active just before a storm. Audubon says that this Owl 
captures living fish in the water by standing quietly by the 
margin, and seizing its prey with its claws, as it appears 
near the surface : whether this is a regular habit or not, I 
cannot say. I never saw one do so ; and I have conversed 
with several hunters who have shot numbers of specimens, 
and they all were ignorant of such a fact. 

Of the breeding habits of this Owl, we are ignorant. 
The Hudson's Bay. and other northern countries, are its 
summer homes. Wheelwright, in his " Spring and Sum- 
mer in Lapland," gives the only description of its nest and 
eggs accessible to me at present. He says : 

" The egg of the Snowy Owl measures 2 inches in length, and 
If inches in breadth: its color is pure-white. The nest is nothing 
more than a large boll of reindeer moss, placed on the ledge of a 
bare fell. The old birds guard it most jealously ; in fact, the Lap- 
landers often kill them with a stick when they are robbing the 




OWL, Nyeiea nivea. Gray 



THE HAWK OWL. 79 

nest, which they do upon every occasion that presents itself. The 
Snowy Owl will occasionally make its nest on the large turf-hillocks 
in some of the mosses. 

STJRNIA, DUMERIL 

Surnia, DUMERIL, Zoologie Analytique, 34 (1806). 

General form rather long, but robust; size medium; head moderate, without ear- 
tufts ; facial disc obsolete ; bill moderate, curved from the base, covered with pro- 
jecting plumes; wings long; tail long, wide, graduated; legs rather short, and with 
the toes densely feathered; contains one species only, which inhabits the arctic 
regions of both continents. 

SURNIA ULULA. Bonaparte. 
The Hawk Owl; Day Owl. 

Strix ulula, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. 133 (1766). 

" Strix funerea," Gm. Boiiap. Syn. 25. Nutt., I. 115. Aud. Orn. Biog., 
IV. 550. 

" Strix Hudsonica." Wilson, VI. 64. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Wings rather long; first three quills incised on their inner webs; tail long, with 
its central feathers about two inches longer than the outer; tarsi and toes densely 
feathered ; upper parts fuliginous-brown, with numerous partially concealed circular 
spots of white on the neck behind, scapulars and wing coverts ; face grayish-white ; 
throat white, with longitudinal stripes of dark-brown ; a large brown spot on each 
side of the breast ; other under parts with transverse lines or stripes of pale ashy- 
brown ; quills and tail brown, with transverse bands of white ; bill pale-yellowish ; 
irides yellow ; color of upper parts darker on the head, and the white markings 
more or less numerous in different specimens. 

Total length, female, sixteen to seventeen inches; wing, nine; tail, seven inches. 
Male rather smaller. 

This bird is occasionally met with in different localities in 
New England ; rarely in the summer, most often in the 
winter. As its name implies, it is diurnal in its habits, 
and hunts its prey in the hours when most of the other 
owls are hidden in their retreats. Its food consists of small 
birds and mice, which it seizes in the manner of the hawks. 
A specimen was obtained in Yermont on a wood-pile in a 
door-yard, where it was eating a woodpecker that it had 
just captured. Dr. Richardson, in his "Fauna Boreali- 
Americana," says that, " when the hunters are shooting 
grouse, this bird is occasionally attracted by the report of 



80 



ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



the gun, and is often bold enough, on a bird being killed, 
to pounce down upon it, though unable, from its size, to 
carry it off. 

The Hawk Owl occasionally breeds in New England. 
My friend, George A. Boardman 
of Milltown, Me., has been so for- 
tunate as to find its nest, with 
eggs, in that neighborhood. It 
usually builds in a hollow tree, 
but sometimes constructs a habi- 
tation in the crotch of a tall tree, 
of sticks, grass, and feathers. 
According to Richardson, it lays 
two white globular eggs. 

Two beautiful specimens in my 
collection, from William Couper, 
Esq., Quebec, collected at North- 
ern Labrador by the Moutanaz 
Indians, are a trifle more elongated and pointed than the 
eggs of the Red Owl (Scops asio). They are of a pure- 
white color, and measure 1.50 by 1.25 inch and 1.47 by 
1.22 inch. 




NOTES. 

I append the following notes, that have been kindly fur- 
nished me by William Couper, of Quebec, Lower Canada, 
for the purpose of showing the northern distribution of the 
birds of prey described in the preceding pages : 

HYPOTRIORCHIS COLUMBARIUS. Only young specimens occur, and 
those rarely, in the latitude of Quebec : they are more common toward the 
western portions of Lower and Upper Canada. It has not, to my knowledge, 
been found breeding in Canada. 

TINNUNCULUS SPARVERIUS. This species is more abundant than the 
preceding ; but the majority of the specimens shot in the neighborhood of 
Quebec are young. I am informed that it breeds in the vicinity of the river 
St. Maurice, which falls into the river St. Lawrence, west of Quebec. 



NOTES. 81 

ASTUE ATRICAPILLUS. The adult of this species is very rare in this 
latitude, and it occurs in this plumage about midwinter. The young, how- 
ever, are sometimes common during the autumn. 

ACCIPITER FUSCUS. This is one of the most common of our Hawks. 
It occurs in young plumage in the fall also. I am told that it breeds in 
Canada ; but I have not had the good fortune to find its nest. Sportsmen 
have told me incidents of the audacity of this little species. They say it is 
always on the alert for woodcock and snipe, and knows the moment that one 
of these birds is wounded. It is sometimes so bold, that, as soon as the shot 
strikes the intended game, the Hawk pounces upon it to carry it away. 

BUTEO PENNSYLVANICUS. This species is very common here during 
the months of September and October. It is generally found preying upon 
frogs and a species of common field locust. I have not learned that it breeds 
in Upper or Lower Canada. 

ARCHIBUTEO LAGOPUS. Sometimes this species is very abundant in 
the northern mountains, especially where there is a plenty of hares and 
grouse. It breeds in Labrador. 

CIRCUS HUDSONIUS. Occurs only in the fall, and then in young plum- 
age. Breeds in Western Canada. It has not been detected breeding in the 
northern swamps of Lower Canada. 

AQUILA CANADENS1S. The adult and young of this species are occa- 
sionally shot here during autumn and winter. I think it breeds on some of 
our high northern mountains. The specimens that I have examined had 
their bodies and legs stuck full of porcupine quills. 

PANDION CAROLINENSIS. This is a very rare visitor in the northern 
regions. I understand that a pair arrive annually, and breed at Lake St. 
Joseph, north of this city. I never saw an adult specimen in Quebec. 

BUBO VIRGINIANUS. This Owl occurs here during summer and win- 
ter. I am almost certain it breeds in the mountains behind the city. I have 
had the young in the down from Bay St. Paul, on the north side of the 
river St. Lawrence, below Quebec. 

OTUS WILSONIANUS and BRACHTOTU3 CASSINII are extremely rare 
here, and I cannot give any facts in relation to them. 

SYRNIUM NEBULOSUM. This is the common Owl of our forests. 

STRNIUM CINEREUM. Is an accidental winter visitor. 

SURNIA ULULA. This bird is also very common during some winters. 
It breeds in the northern portions of Hudson's Bay and Labrador. 

NYCTEA NIVEA. This Owl is more abundant this winter (1867) than it 
has been for years. 

NYCTALE RICHARDSONII and N. ACADICA also occur here. The former 
is occasional; but the latter, extremely rare. 

6 



82 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



ORDER II. SCANSORES. CLIMBERS. 

The characteristics of this order are given on page 4 of this 
volume. It is represented in the New-England States by two 
families, the Cuculidce or Cuckoos, and the Picidce or Wood- 
peckers. 

These families have the arrangement of two pairs of toes 
opposed to each other in common ; otherwise, they are much dif- 
ferent in their characteristics. 

The Cuculidce have " bill thin, usually slender, and rather long, 
the tip more or less decurved, the base usually without rictal 
bristles ; tarsi usually rather long, clothed with broad plates ante- 
riorly ; the tail feathers usually ten, sometimes eight or twelve, 
all long." 

The Picidce have " bill straight, rigid, and chisel-shaped at the 
tip, the base without rictal bristles ; the feet are stout, and clothed 
anteriorly with broad plates ; tail feathers twelve, the exterior very 
small and concealed." x 

1 See Introduction. 



THE YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO. 83 



FAMILY CUCULID^E. THE CUCKOOS. 
COCCYGUS, VIEILLOT. 

Coccyzus, Vieillot. Analyse (1816). 

Erythrophrys, Swainson. Class. Birds, II. (1837), 322. 

Head without crest ; feathers about base of bill soft ; bill nearly as long as the 
head, decurved, slender, and attenuated towards the end; nostrils linear; wings 
lengthened, reaching the middle of the tail ; the tertials short ; tail of ten graduated 
feathers ; feet weak ; tarsi shorter than the middle toe. 

The species of Coccygus are readily distinguished from those of Geococcyx by 
their arborial habits, confining themselves mainly to trees, instead of living habitu- 
ally on the ground. The plumage is soft, fine, and compact. 

The American cuckoos differ from the European cuckoos ( Cuculus) by having 
lengthened naked tarsi, instead of very short feathered ones ; the nostrils are 
elongated, too, instead of rounded. 

COCCYGUS AMEEICANUS. Bonaparte. 
The Yellow-billed Cuckoo. 

Cuculus Americanus, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766). 

Coccyzus Americanus, Audubon. Orn. Biog , I. (1832). Bonap. Syn., 42. 

Cuculus Carolinensis. Wilson, 267. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Upper mandible, and tip of lower black ; rest of lower mandible, and cutting 
edges of the upper yellow; upper parts of a metallic greenish-olive, slightly tinged 
with ash towards the bill; beneath white; tail feathers (except the median, which 
are like the back) black, tipped with white for about an inch on the outer feathers, 
the external one with the outer edge almost entirely white ; quills orange-cinnamon; 
the terminal portion and a gloss on the outer webs olive ; iris brown. 

Length, twelve inches; wing, five and ninety-five one-hundredths; tail, six and 
thirty-five one-hundredths. 

THIS bird is very irregularly distributed through New 
England as a summer visitor. A. E. Verrill, in his 
catalogue of birds found at Norway, Me., says that "it 
is not common as a summer visitor." George A. Board- 
man writes me, that, near Calais, Me., it is " extremely 
rare." J. A. Allen, in his paper on Springfield birds 
(before referred to), calls it " extremely rare." Dr. Wood 
says it is " very rare " at East-Windsor Hill, Conn., where 



84 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

he has found it breeding. While I have noticed, that, 
though in former years it was equally abundant with the 
Black-billed Cuckoo, this bird is now growing scarce in the 
neighborhood of Boston. 

This species arrives from the South from about the 25th 
of April to the 1st of May. We are first notified of his 
arrival by hearing his harsh notes in the opening foliage ; 
and presently we see him moving about the twigs, busily 
picking off and swallowing the caterpillars and other larvae 
which are so destructive to our fruit and shade trees. Soon 
he passes to another tree, still pursuing his profitable 
search ; and, when he has . gleaned to his heart's or 
rather stomach's content, he launches himself into the 
air, and takes flight for another grove or orchard, perhaps 
a half-mile off, or even farther. His flight is rapid, con- 
sisting of repeated strokes of his wings, but it is not 
always direct ; for he frequently turns from a straight course 
and flies off at an angle, then back again in a wavering 
manner. Occasionally, he pauses in his flight, and sud- 
denly descends and alights on a shrub or low bush, as if he 
perceived an enemy in the air or a friend in the bush. 
After repeating his song, " Krow-krow-krow-krow-krow ; kru- 
kra, kru-kra, kru-kru" he is off again, and is soon out 
of sight. 

The male arrives about ten days before the female. As 
soon as the latter makes her appearance, the male com- 
mences his courtship. He is very attentive to her, watch- 
ing her every movement, and following her every flight. 
Although usually very cowardly, he is at this period toler- 
ably brave, and will even attempt to molest any other bird 
that happens to be near, but usually with poor success ; for, 
as his cowardice is traditional among the birds, they will 
turn upon him, and drive him off discomfited. When the 
couple have mated, they soon commence building. The 
nest is placed in a low bough of a tree, or in a shrub or 
barberry bush. It is a loose, straggling affair, composed of 



THE BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO. 85 

sticks and twigs, and sometimes a few pieces of moss. The 
eggs are usually four in number ; they are of a light 
greenish-blue color, and almost invariably larger than those 
of the Black-billed Cuckoo. A number of specimens before 
me vary from 1.07 to 1.25 of an inch in length, by from .84 
to .96 inch in breadth. But one brood is reared in the 
season. 

COCCYGUS ERYTHROPHTHALMUS. Bonaparte. 
The Black-billed Cuckoo. 

Cuculus erythrophthalmus, Wilson. Am. Orn., IV. (1811), 16. 

Coccyzus erythrophthalmus, Audubon. Orn. Biog., I. (1832), 170. Bonap. 

Syn., 42. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill entirely black ; upper parts generally of a metallic greenish-olive, ashy to- 
wards the base of the bill; beneath pure-white, with a brownish-yellow tinge on the 
throat; inner webs of the quills tinged with cinnamon; under surface of all the tail 
feathers hoary ash-gray; all beneath the central, on either side, suffused with darker 
to the short, bluish-white, and not well-defined tip; a naked red skin round the eye; 
iris, hazel. 1 

Length about twelve inches ; wing, five ; tail, six and a half. 

This species is quite abundantly distributed throughout 
New England as a summer visitor, reaching to more north- 
ern latitudes than the other. It arrives from the South 
about the first week in May ; 
and, like the Yellow-billed 
Cuckoo, the males precede 
the females. I have exam- 
ined numbers of the first 
birds that arrived in differ- 
ent seasons, and they were 
invariably males ; the females 
making their appearance 
about ten days or a fortnight 
later. The habits of the two 
species are very similar, although the present bird prefers 
the more cultivated and open districts, while the other 

1 In succeeding species, when the color of the iris is not given, it is understood to 
be dark-hazel or black. 




86 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

seems to delight in the more retired and wooded locali- 
ties. 

In flight, the Black-billed Cuckoo is more swift than the 
other ; in breeding habits, the same ; and its food is similar, 
consisting principally of insects and their larvae, small fruits, 
and the eggs and young of small birds. Like the other, the 
Black-billed Cuckoo is very cowardly, and is quickly driven 
from the neighborhood of the nest of almost any of the 
other birds. If a robin, or other bird of equal size, discover 
one of these, to him pirates, in the vicinity of his nest, he 
immediately assaults the intruder, with loud outcries, poun- 
cing upon him, and pecking with great ferocity. Others of 
his neighbors, who are near, join in the attack : the Cuckoo, 
in retreating, dives into the recesses of a stone wall, or the 
first secure retreat available ; very seldom taking to his 
wings, as another bird would do. I have known of a cuckoo 
being driven into a barn by a Blue-bird ($. sialis), who sat 
perching on a fence outside for several minutes, keeping his 
enemy prisoner ; and the latter, when pursued and captured 
by myself, preferred being my prisoner to facing his enemy 
outside. 

The nest of the Black-billed Cuckoo is usually placed in 
a low tree or barber ry4msh. It is constructed of twigs, 
roots, and sometimes a few leaves and moss. I have exam- 
ined a great number of these, from different sections ; and I 
have noticed that those from northern localities were inva- 
riably lined with gray moss, called Spanish moss, and leaves, 
while others, from more southern districts, were without 
such linings. 

The eggs are usually four in number : they are of a darker 
greenish-blue than those of the other bird, and average a 
little smaller ; their length varying from 1 to 1.12 inch, by 
from .84 to .92 inch in breadth. 

The shell of these eggs is always quite thin and fragile, 
much more so than that of the others. 



THE HAIRY WOODPECKER. 87 



FAMILY PICID^E. THE WOODPECKERS. 
Sub-Family PICIN^E. 

Although all the woodpeckers have a certain resemblance to each other, and 
agree more or less in habits, there are distinctions among them which serve readily 
for division into sub-genera, genera, or even higher groups. Thus, the difference 
between the Ivory-billed Woodpecker and the common Flicker, which may be taken 
as representing the extremes of the scale in North-American species, will be palpable 
to any observer. 

In the woodpeckers inhabiting the United States, there are three distinct groups, 
which may be taken, with some authors, as so many sub-families ; or if, with Bona- 
parte, we unite all the Piddle with stiffened, acuminate, and pointed tails into a sub- 
family Picirue, they will constitute so many separate sections. They may be severally 
characterized as follows: 

PICIN.E or Picece. Bill more or less long ; the outlines above and below nearly 
straight; the ends truncated; a prominent ridge on the side of the mandible, spring- 
ing from the middle of the base or a little below, and running out either on the 
commissure, or extending parallel to and a little above it, to the end ; sometimes 
obliterated or confluent with the lateral bevel of the bill ; nostrils considerably over- 
hung by the lateral ridge, more or less linear, and concealed by thick bushy tufts of 
feathers at the base of the bill ; outer posterior toe generally longer than the anterior. 

MELANERPIN/E or Centurece. Bill rather long; the outlines, that of the culmen 
especially, decidedly curved. The lateral ridge much nearest the culmen, and, 
though quite distinct at the base, disappearing before coming to the lower edge of 
the mandible ; not overhanging the nostrils, which are broadly oval, rounded an- 
teriorly, and not concealed by the bristly feathers at the base ; outer pair of toes 
nearly equal, the anterior rather longer. 

COLAPTIN.E or Colaptece. Bill much depressed, and the upper outline much 
curved to the acutely pointed (not truncate) tip; the commissure considerably 
curved; bill without any ridges; the nostrils broadly oval, and much exposed; 
anterior outer toe longest. 

PICUS VILLOSUS. Linnceus. 1 

The Hairy Woodpecker. 
Plcus villosus, Linnaeus. Syst., I. 175. Bonap. Syn., 46, and others. 

DESCRIPTION. 

"The Hairy Woodpecker is nine inches long and fifteen in extent; crown 
black ; line over and under the eye white ; the eye is placed in a black line, 
that widens as it descends to the back; hind head scarlet, sometimes intermixed 
with black; nostrils hid under remarkably thick, bushy, recumbent hairs, or 
bristles; under the bill are certain long hairs thrown forward and upward; bill 

1 See p. 84, vol. IX., Pacific R.R. Reports. 



88 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

a bluish horn-color, grooved, wedged at the end, straight, and about an inch and a 
quarter long; touches of black, proceeding from the lower mandible, end in a broad 
black strip that joins the black on the shoulder; back black, divided by a broad, 
lateral strip of white, the feathers composing which are loose and unwebbed, resem- 
bling hairs, whence its name ; rump and shoulders of the wing black ; wings black, 
tipped and spotted with white, three rows of spots being visible on the secondaries 
and five on the primaries ; greater wing coverts also spotted with white ; tail, as in 
the others, cuneiform, consisting of ten strong-shafted and pointed feathers, the four 
middle ones black, the next partially white, the two exterior ones white, tinged at 
the tip with a brownish burnt-color; tail coverts black; whole lower side pure-white; 
legs, feet, and claws light-blue, the latter remarkably large and strong; inside of the 
mouth flesh-colored; tongue pointed, beset with barbs, and capable of being pro- 
truded more than an inch and a half; the os hyoides, in this species, passes on each 
side of the neck, ascends the skull, passes down towards the nostril, and is wound 
round the bone of the right eye, which projects considerably more than the left for 
its accommodation. The great mass of hairs that cover the nostril appears to be 
designed as a protection to the front of the head, when the bird is engaged in digging 
holes into the wood. The membrane which encloses the brain in this, as in all the 
other species of woodpeckers, is also of extraordinary strength ; no doubt, to prevent 
any bad effects from violent concussion while the bird is employed in digging for 
food. The female wants the red on the hind head, and the white below is tinged 
with brownish." WILSON. 



THE above description, as given by Wilson, is very full 
and complete. This Woodpecker is a rather common 
visitor in New England, in the spring, fall, and winter 

months, and is, to 
some extent, a resi- 
dent through the year. 
Probably the greater 
number retire to the 
North in the breeding 
season ; and those that 
remain in the south- 

Skull and tongue of woodpecker. 

ern districts of these 

States most usually seek the woods for their summer 
homes, and are, as a general thing, seldom met with 
in the thickly settled districts. The flight is a waver- 
ing, undulating one, like that of all the woodpeckers ; 
consisting of a series of short vibrations of the wings, 
followed by a downward, soaring movement, which is suc- 
ceeded by another similar series. On alighting, the bird 





HAIRY WOODPECKER, Picus villosus. Linnaeus. 



THE DOWNY WOODPECKER. 89 

strikes its object with both feet, and makes no discrimina- 
tion between a horizontal branch or limb and a perpendicular 
one. It commences its building operations quite early, often 
by the 20th of April. The nest is made by excavating in 
old trees in the woods, rarely in orchards : the hole made is 
often as much as eighteen inches in depth, in some cases 
hardly five inches. A post in a fence is sometimes taken 
for a breeding-place, the hole in which the rail is inserted 
furnishing a starting-place for the excavation of the nest. 

The eggs are usually five in number ; seldom more, often 
less : ' they are of a beautiful clear-white color, and the shell 
is very smooth and rather thin ; and, before the contents of 
the egg are removed, they impart a rosy tint to it. Speci- 
mens vary in size from .77 to .84 inch in length, by from 
.62 to .68 inch in breadth. 

The nest is never lined with leaves or other soft materials, 
so far as my observation has been ; but the eggs are depos- 
ited on a small pile of chips of the rotten wood, which seem 
to be left by the bird designedly for this purpose. 

The food of this species consists principally of the eggs 
and larvas of injurious insects that are burrowing in the 
wood of our fruit and forest trees : these he is enabled to 
obtain by chiselling out a small hole with his powerful bill, 
and drawing them from their lurking-places with his long 
barbed tongue. He also eats some small fruits and berries, 
but never, so far as I am aware, the buds or blossoms of 
trees, as some persons assert. 

PIOUS PUBESCENS. Linnaws. 
The Downy Woodpecker. 

Picus pubescens, Linnams. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 15. Vieill. Ois. Am t (1807) 65. 

"Picus pubescens," Linnaeus, Wilson. Am. Orn. I. (1808) 153. Aud. Orn. 
Biog. II. (1834). 

DESCRIPTION. 

A miniature of P. villosus. Above black, with a white band down the back ; two 
white stripes on the side of the head ; the lower of opposite sides always separated ; 
the upper sometimes confluent on the nape ; two stripes of black on the side of the 



90 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

head, the lower not running into the forehead; beneath white; wing much spotted 
with white; the larger coverts with two series each; tertiaries or inner secondaries 
all banded with white ; two outer tail feathers white, with two bands of black at the 
end, third white at tip and externally. Male, with red terminating the white feathers 
on the nape ; legs and feet bluish-green ; claws light-blue tipped with black ; iris 
dark-hazel. 

Length, about six and a quarter inches; wing, three and three-quarters. 

This little Woodpecker the smallest we have is abun- 
dantly distributed throughout New England, and is a resi- 
dent throughout the year. The exceedingly interesting 
description of its habits, by Wilson, is so full that I will give 
it entire. He says : 

" About the middle of May, the male and female look out for a 
suitable place for the reception of their eggs and young. An apple, 
pear, or cherry tree often in the near neighborhood of the farm- 
houseis generally fixed upon for this purpose. The tree is mi- 
nutely reconnoitred for several days previous to the operation ; and 
the work is first begun by the male, who cuts out a hole in the solid 
wood as circular as if described with a pair of compasses. He is 
occasionally relieved by the female, both parties working with the 
most indefatigable diligence. The direction of the hole, if made in 
the body of the tree, is generally downwards, by an angle of thirty 
or forty degrees, for the distance of six or eight inches, and then 
straight down for ten or twelve more : within, roomy, capacious, 
and as smooth as if polished by the cabinet-maker ; but the entrance 
is judiciously left just so large as to admit the bodies of the owners. 
During this labor, they regularly carry out the chips, often strewing 
them at a distance, to prevent suspicion. This operation sometimes 
occupies the chief part of a week. Before she begins to lay, the 
female often visits the place, passes out and in, examines every 
part both of the exterior and interior with great attention 
(as every prudent tenant of a new house ought to do), and at 
length takes complete possession. The eggs are generally six, 
pure-white, and laid on the smooth bottom of the cavity. The 
male occasionally supplies the female with food while she is sitting ; 
and, about the last week in June, the young are perceived making 
their way up the tree, climbing with considerable dexterity. All 
this goes on with great regularity where no interruption is met 



THE DOWNY WOODPECKER. 91 

with ; but the House Wren, who also builds in the hollow of a 
tree, but who is neither furnished with the necessary tools nor 
strength for excavating such an apartment for himself, allows the 
woodpeckers to go on till he thinks it will answer his purpose, 
then attacks them with violence, and generally succeeds in driving 
them off. I saw, some weeks ago, a striking example of this, 
where the Woodpeckers we are now describing, after commencing 
in a cherry-tree, within a few yards of the house, and having made 
considerable progress, were turned out by the Wren. The former 
began again on a pear-tree in the garden, fifteen or twenty yards 
off, whence, after digging out a most complete apartment, and one 
egg being laid, they were once more assaulted by the same imper- 
tinent intruder, and finally forced to abandon the place. 

" The principal characteristics of this little bird are diligence, 
familiarity, perseverance, and a strength and energy in the head 
and muscles of the neck which are truly astonishing. Mounted on 
the infected branch of an old apple-tree, where insects have lodged 
their corroding and destructive brood in crevices between the bark 
and wood, he labors sometimes for half an hour incessantly at the 
same spot, before he has succeeded in dislodging and destroying 
them. At these times, you may walk up pretty close to the tree, 
and even stand immediately below it, within five or six feet of the 
bird, without in the least embarrassing him. The strokes of his 
bill are distinctly heard several hundred yards off; and I have 
known him to be at work for two hours together on the same tree. 
Buffon calls this ' incessant toil and slavery ; ' their attitude, * a 
painful posture.;' and their life, 'a dull and insipid existence,' 
expressions improper because untrue, and absurd because con- 
tradictory. The posture is that for which the whole organization 
is particularly adapted; and though to a Wren or a Humming- 
bird the labor would be both toil and slavery, yet to him it is, I 
am convinced, as pleasant and as amusing as the sports of the 
chase to the hunter, or the sucking of flowers to the Humming- 
bird. The eagerness with which he traverses the upper and lower 
sides of the branches, the cheerfulness of his cry, and the liveli- 
ness of his motions while digging into the tree and dislodging the 
vermin, justify this belief. He has a single note, or chink, which, 
like the former species, he frequently repeats ; and when he flies 



92 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

off, or alights on another tree, he utters a rather shriller cry, com- 
posed of nearly the same kind of note, quickly reiterated. In fall 
and winter, he associates with the Titmouse, Creeper, &c., both in 
their wood and orchard excursions, and usually leads the van. Of 
all our Woodpeckers, none rid the apple-trees of so many vermin 
as this, digging off the moss which the negligence of the proprie- 
tor had suffered to accumulate, and probing every crevice. In 
fact, the orchard is his favorite resort in all seasons ; and his indus- 
try is unequalled and almost incessant, which is more than can be 
. paid of any other species we have. In fall, he is particularly fond 
of boring the apple-trees for insects, digging a circular hole through 
the bark, just sufficient to admit his bill ; after that, a second, 
third, &c., in pretty regular horizontal circles round the body of 
the tree : these parallel circles of holes are often not more than an 
inch or an inch and a half apart, and sometimes so close together 
that I have covered eight or ten of them at once with a dollar. 
From nearly the surface of the ground up to the first fork, and 
sometimes far beyond it, the whole bark of many apple-trees is 
perforated in this manner, so as to appear as if made by successive 
discharges of buck-shot ; and our little Woodpecker the subject 
of the present account is the principal perpetrator of this sup- 
posed mischief: I say supposed, for, so far from these perforations 
of the bark being ruinous, they are not only harmless, but, I have 
good reason to believe, really beneficial to the health and fertility 
of the tree. I leave it to the philosophical botanist to account for 
this ; but the fact I am confident of. In more than fifty orchards 
which I have myself carefully examined, those trees which were 
marked by the Woodpecker (for some trees they never touch, per- 
haps because not penetrated by insects) were uniformly the most 
thriving, and seemingly the most productive. Many of these were 
upwards of sixty years old, their trunks completely covered with 
holes, while the branches were broad, luxuriant, and loaded with 
fruit. Of decayed trees, more than three-fourths were untouched 
by the Woodpecker. Several intelligent farmers, with whom I 
have conversed, candidly acknowledge the truth of these observa- 
tions, and with justice look upon these birds as beneficial : but the 
most common opinion is, that they bore the tree to suck the sap, 
and so destroy its vegetation : though pine and other resinous trees, 



THE DOWNY WOODPECKER. 93 

on the juices of which it is not pretended they feed, are often 
found equally perforated. Were the sap of the tree their object, 
the saccharine juice of the birch, the sugar-maple, and several 
others, would be much more inviting (because more sweet and 
nourishing) than that of either the pear or apple tree ; but I have 
not observed one mark on the former for ten thousand that may be 
seen on the latter. Besides, the early part of spring is the season 
when the sap flows most abundantly; whereas, it is only during 
the months of September, October, and November, that Wood- 
peckers are seen so indefatigably engaged in orchards, probing 
every crack and crevice, boring through the bark and, what is 
worth remarking, chiefly on the south and south-west sides of the 
tree for the eggs and larvae deposited there by the countless 
swarms of summer insects. These, if suffered to remain, would 
prey upon the very vitals if I may so express it of the tree, 
and in the succeeding summer give birth to myriads more of their 
race, equally destructive. 

" Here, then, is a whole species, I may say genus, of birds, 
which Providence seems to have formed for the protection of our 
fruit and forest trees from the ravages of vermin, which every day 
destroy millions of those noxious insects that would otherwise blast 
the hopes of the husbandman; they even promote the fertility 
of the tree, and, in return, are proscribed by those who ought to 
have been their protectors, and incitements and rewards held out 
for their destruction ! Let us examine better into the operations 
of nature, and many of our mistaken opinions and groundless 
prejudices will be abandoned for more just, enlarged, and humane 
modes of thinking." 

The nest and eggs are of the same description as the 
Hairy Woodpecker's, except with regard to size ; the eggs 
of the present species being considerably smaller on the 
average, measuring from .73 to .77 inch in length, by 
from .60 to .53 inch in breadth. I think that the nests of 
this species, as of some others, are used for successive 
seasons, as I have found apparently old nests occupied by 
breeding birds. I am not aware that the Hairy Wood- 
pecker uses the same nest several seasons. The Downy 



94 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

Woodpecker sometimes rears two broods in the southern 
portion of New England ; usually, but one. 

PICOIDES, LACEPEDE. 

Picoides, LACEPEDE, Mem. Inst. (1799). 

Bill about as long as the head, very much depressed at the base ; the outlines 
nearly straight ; the lateral ridge at its base much nearer the commissure than the 
culmen, so as to bring the large rather linear nostrils close to the edge of the com- 
missure; the gonys very long, equal to the distance from the nostrils to the tip of the 
bill ; feet with only three toes ; the outer lateral a little longer than the inner, but 
slightly exceeded by the hind toe, which is about equal to the tarsus ; wings very 
long, reaching beyond the middle of the tail ; fourth and fifth quills longest ; color 
black, with a broad patch of yellow on the crown ; transversely banded on the sides ; 
quills with round spots. 

PICOIDES AECTICUS. Gray. 
The Black-backed, Three-toed Woodpecker. 

Picus (Apternus) arcticus. Sw. F. Bor. Am., II. (1831) 313. 
Picas arcticus. Aud. Syn. (1839) 182. lb., Birds Amer., IV. (1842) 266. Nut- 
tall, Man., I. (20 ed. 1840) 691. 

Picus tridactylus, Bonaparte. Am. Orn., II. (1828) 14. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. 

(1834). 

DESCRIPTION. 

Above entirely uniform glossy bluish-black ; a square patch on the middle of the 
crown saffron-yellow, and a few spots on the outer edges of both webs of the primary 
and secondary quills ; beneath white, on the sides of the breast longitudinally striped, 
and on the sides of the belly and on the flanks and tibial region banded transversely 
with black ; a narrow concealed white line from the eye a short distance backwards, 
and a white stripe from the extreme forehead (meeting anteriorly) under the eye, 
and down the sides of the neck; bristly feathers of the base of the bill brown; ex- 
posed portion of the two outer tail feathers (first and second) white; bill bluish-black, 
the lower mandible grayish-blue; iris bluish-black. Female, without yellow on the 
head. 

Length, about nine and a half inches; wing, five; tail, three eighty-five one- 
hundredths. 

This species 'is rare in the three southern New-England 
States, where it is found only as a winter visitor. In the 
others, it is not very abundant, and is only resident, in 
the most northern sections, in the neighborhood of, or in, the 
deep forests and uninhabited districts, through the year. 

Its habits are similar to those of the other woodpeckers. 
I have had abundant opportunities of noticing them, and 
have discovered nothing peculiar in them, or worthy of re- 



THE BANDED THREE-TOED WOODPECKER. 95 

mark. Its breeding habits are not well known ; but it 
probably breeds in all the large forests of Northern Maine, 
New Hampshire, and Vermont. 

I was so fortunate as to find two nests in the month of 
June, 1864, in the valley of the Magalloway River, about 
forty miles north of Lake Umbagog, Me. The holes were 
both excavated in hemlock stumps, about ten feet from the 
ground ; they were not over an inch and a half in diameter, 
and were about ten inches in depth: the bottom of the 
hole formed the nest, which, as with the other species, was 
nothing but a few chips and bits of wood. The first nest, 
found on the 15th of June, had three young birds, appar- 
ently about a week old. The second nest had three eggs : 
these were of a beautiful clear-white color, and the shells 
remarkably smooth to the touch. Their dimensions varied 
only from .83 to .85 inch in length, by .75 to .77 inch in 
breadth. 

PICOIDES HIRSUTUS. Gray. 
The Banded Three-toed Woodpecker.' 

Picus hirsutus, Vieillot. Ois. Am. Sept., II. (1807) 68. Aud. Orn. Biog., V. 18, 
39, 184. /., Birds Am., IV. (1842), pi. 269. Nutt. Man., I. (2d ed. 1840) 692. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Black above ; the back with transverse bands of white to the rump ; a white line 
from behind the eye, widening on the nape, and a broader one under the eye from 
the loral region, but not extending on the forehead ; occiput and sides of the head 
uniform black ; quills spotted on both webs with white ; under parts white ; the sides 
banded transversely with black ; top of the head spotted with white ; the crown of 
the male with a yellow patch ; bill bluish-black ; iris dark-hazel. 

Length, about nine inches; wing, four forty-five one-hundredths ; tail, three 
thirty-five one-hundredths. 

This bird is rarely found in New England, except in the 
midst of severe winters, and then it seldom penetrates so 
far south as Massachusetts. I have known of but two or 
three specimens being obtained in this State, and never 
heard of any being shot in the others south of it. Having 
had no opportunities for observing its habits, I can add 
nothing to our knowledge of this species. 



96 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



SPHYRAPICUS, BAIRD. 

Pilumnus, Bonaparte. Consp. Zygod. Ateneo Italiano, May, 1854. (P. thy- 
roideus.) 

Bill as in Picus, but the lateral ridge, which is very prominent, running out dis- 
tinctly to the commissure at about its middle, beyond which the bill is rounded 
without any angles at all; the culmen and gonys are very nearly straight, but 
slightly convex, the bill tapering rapidly to a point; the lateral outline concave to 
very near the slightly bevelled tip ; outer pair of toes longest ; the hinder exterior 
rather longest ; the inner posterior toe very short, less than the inner anterior with- 
out its claw; wings long and pointed, the fourth longest; tail feathers very broad, 
abruptly acuminate, with a very long linear point. 

SPHYRAPICUS VAEIUS. Baird. 
The Yellow-bellied Woodpecker. 

Picus varius, Linnseus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 176. Wilson, Am. On., I. (1808) 
147. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 519. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Fourth quill longest; third a little shorter; fourth considerably shorter; general 
color above black, much variegated with white; feathers of the back and rump 
brownish-white, spotted with black ; crown scarlet, bordered by black on the sides 
of the head and nape ; a streak from above the eye, and another from the bristles of 
the bill, passing below the eye and into the yellowish of the belly, and a stripe along 
the edges of the wing coverts white; a triangular broad patch of scarlet on the chin, 
bordered on each side by black stripes from the lower mandible, which meet behind, 
and extend into a large quadrate spot on the breast ; rest of under parts yellowish- 
white, streaked on the sides with black ; inner web of inner tail-feather white, spotted 
with black ; outer feathers black, edged and spotted with white. Female, with the 
red of the throat replaced by white. Young male, without black on the breast, 
or red on the top of the head; iris dark-hazel. 

Length, eight and a quarter inches; wing, about four and three-quarters; tail, 
three thirty one-hundredths. 

This bird is very irregularly distributed in New England 
as a summer visitor. Verrill, in his Catalogue, before re- 
ferred to, says that it is a common summer visitor, and 
breeds at Norway, Me. J. A. Allen says, that near Spring- 
field "it is not common, and is only seen in fall and spring, 
when migrating. I have never seen this species here in 
summer, and do not think it breeds here ; though I am 
informed by W. H. Niles that ' they breed plentifully on the 
hills in Western Massachusetts, twenty or thirty miles west 
of Springfield/ " 



THE YELLOW-BELLIED WOODPECKER. 97 

So far as my own observation has been, it is not found at 
all abundant in any part of these States ; and I think, that, 
on the seaboard, it is rare. 

It arrives from the South, from about the 10th to the 20th 
of April, and soon commences pairing. I have never noticed 
any great peculiarity in its habits. It seems to prefer the 
woods to the more open districts, and very seldom indeed 
makes its appearance, in the breeding season, in the orchards 
and nurseries, where, as it is often said by persons wjio are 
prejudiced, it does considerable damage in boring into apple- 
trees and sucking the sap ; hence it is called the " Sap- 
sucker." I am not sufficiently acquainted with its habits, in 
the Western States, to say positively that it does not eat 
some of the inner bark of trees, when in pursuit of its 
favorite insect-food ; but I cannot help thinking that the 
denunciations of it, so often seen in the Western papers, 
are exaggerated. 

Dr. Bryant, who has paid some attention to the examina- 
tion of the food of this bird, gives, in the " Proceedings of 
the Boston Society of Natural History," vol. X. 91, the fol- 
lowing remarks : 

" It has long been known that some of our smaller woodpeckers 
pick out portions of the sound bark of trees, particularly of apple- 
trees, where there are no larvas, and apparently no inducement for 
them to do so. What their object is has never been satisfactorily 
established. In Massachusetts, I am not aware that these holes 
are ever sufficiently large or numerous to cause any material injury 
to the apple-trees : they are generally seen in circles round the 
limbs or trunks of small irregularly rounded holes, and in this 
vicinity are made almost exclusively by the Downy Woodpecker 
(P. pubescens), aided occasionally by the Hairy Woodpecker (P. 
villosus). In certain parts of the West, however, it is said that 
great damage is done to orchards by the Yellow-bellied Wood- 
pecker (S. varius) ; and Dr. Hoy, of Racine, Wis., has advanced 
the theory that the object of the bird in so doing is to obtain the 
inner bark for food. A number of specimens of this bird, for- 
warded by Dr. Hoy to the Smithsonian Institution, have been 

7 



98 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

placed in my hands by Professor Baird for examination : as the 
specimens are alcoholic, the soft parts are, as is always the case, 
too much distorted to be available for correct comparisons ; the 
gizzard, however, seems smaller, and the proventriculus larger, than 
in other species of this family with which I have compared them. 
The contents of the stomach are berries, small coleoptera, Iarva3 of 
boring beetles, ants, and fragments of the inner bark of the apple- 
tree/' 

After giving minute analyses of the characteristics of the 
tongues and portions of the skulls of the different small 
woodpeckers, and comparing them with the Yellow-bellied 
Woodpecker's, showing how the latter differ from the others, 
he says : 

" The general shape of the whole tongue is not much unlike that 
of the Robin ; the ciliated edges show an analogy to the Melipha- 
gidce, and indicate that the sap of the trees pecked by them may 
form a portion of their food. In the stomachs of the six individuals 
examined by me, fragments of the inner bark were found in all, so 
that it can hardly be presumed to have been accidentally introduced. 
It is evident, from the shape of the tongue, that it is not used as a 
dart, in the manner of the true Woodpecker, to draw out insects 
from their lurking-places, but that these are seized by the bill, as in 
other insectivorous birds. Insects, however, probably form their 
chief diet, as all the stomachs examined also contained insects, the 
quantity of which was greater than that of the fragments of bark : 
in one bird, there were two Iarva3 of a boring beetle, so large that 
there was not room for both in the stomach at once, and one re- 
mained in the lower part of the resophagus. If these were, as is 
probable, the larvae of the Saperda, they would do more damage 
than twenty woodpeckers ; and I sincerely hope that these birds are 
not to be exterminated, unless it is clearly demonstrated that the 
injury caused by the destruction of the bark is not more than com- 
pensated by their destruction of noxious insects." 

About the 1st of May, the Yellow-bellied Woodpecker 
commences excavating its hole, which is usually in a de- 
cayed tree in the woods, but occasionally in a sound tree. 



THE PILEATED WOODPECKER. 99 

This excavation is often eighteen or twenty inches deep. It 
is not lined with any soft material, and the eggs are depos- 
ited on chips of the wood left in the bottom. These are 
usually five in number ; they are of a pure-white color, and 
small for the size of the bird, measuring from .82 to .86 inch 
in length, by from .74 to .77 inch in breadth. 

HYLATOMUS, BAIRD. * 

Dryotomus, MALHERBE, Mem. Ac. Metz. (1849) 322. (Not of Swainson, 1831.) 
Dryopicus, BONAP. Consp. Zygod. in Aten. Ital. (May, 1854). (Not of Malherbe.) 

Bill a little longer than the head ; considerably depressed, or broader than high 
at the base; shaped much as in Campephilus, except shorter, and without the bristly 
feathers directed forwards at the base of the lower jaw; gonys about half the length 
of the commissure; tarsus shorter than any toe except the inner posterior; outer 
posterior toe shorter than the outer anterior, and a little longer than the inner 
anterior; inner posterior very short, not half the outer anterior, about half the inner 
anterior one. 

Tail long, graduated, the longer feathers much incurved at the tip ; wing longer 
than the tail, reaching to the middle of the exposed surface of tail, considerably 
graduated, though pointed, the fourth and fifth quills longest. 

Color uniform black, with white patches on the side of the head; head with 
pointed crest. 

HYLATOMUS PILEATUS- Baird. 
The Pileated Woodpecker; Log Cock. 

Picus pileatus, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 173. Vieill. Ois. Am. Sept., II. 
(1807) 58. Wilson, Am. Orn., IV. (1811) 27. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 74. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Fourth and fifth quills equal and longest, third intermediate between the sixth 
and seventh; bill blue-black; general color of body, wings, and tail, dull greenish- 
black; a narrow white streak from just above the eye to the occiput, a wider one 
from the nostril feathers (inclusive) under the eye and along the side of the head and 
neck; side of the breast (concealed by the wing), axillaries, and under wing coverts, 
and concealed bases of all the quills, with chin and beneath the head, white, tinged 
with sulphur-yellow ; entire crown, from the base of the bill to a well-developed 
occipital crest, as also a patch on the ramus of the lower jaw, scarlet-red; a few 
white crescents on the sides of the body and on the abdomen ; iris very dark hazel. 

Female without the red on the cheek, and the anterior half of that on the top 
of the head replaced by black. 

Length, about eighteen inches ; wing, nine and a half inches. 

This species is a resident in the northern districts of 
New England throughout the year. It has been known 



100 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

to breed in Massachusetts ; but, as a general thing, it is not 
found south of the northern border of this State. Verrill, 
in his Catalogue of Maine birds, before referred to, says 
" it is a common resident, and breeds : " he also says it is 
" most common in winter." 

The great size and strength of this bird enable it to 
pierce into and tear apart the decaying trees in which its 
food is burrowing, with wonderful facility and ease. I have 
at times, in passing through the forest, found huge trees 
that had died and fallen to the ground, with their bark 
stripped off, and large chips torn out, as if some animal had 
been at work on them ; and I always supposed that a bear 
had been amusing himself, as those animals sometimes do, 
in this employment. One day I discovered the author of 
the demolition, and it proved to be the Pileated Woodpecker. 
While seated in the woods near the settlement known as 
Wilson's Mills in Maine, I heard a large animal, as I sup- 
posed, rooting and tearing into a dead tree a few rods off. I 
crept up near the sound, hoping to get a shot at a bear, when 
I discovered this bird, which looked very much like a black 
hen, busily at work. He was searching for the borers and 
large black ants that hide beneath the bark ; and so earnestly 
was he employed, that he permitted me to approach very 
near him. He would force his powerful bill, by repeated 
strokes, into the bark, in holes in a direct line with the 
grain, until he had marked out a patch, perhaps six or eight 
inches square, and then, striking into it diagonally, tear it 
off, thus exposing the living vermin 'beneath, which he lost 
no time in securing. After clearing that spot, he moved to 
another, and repeated the same operation, until, by a sud- 
den movement, I startled him, when he flew off, uttering 
a rattling cackle similar to that of a garrulous hen. His 
flight was similar to that of the other woodpeckers de- 
scribed in another place in this volume. In addition to 
insects, this Woodpecker eats acorns, beech-nuts, berries, 
and Indian corn, but is not at all troublesome to farmers ; 



THE PILEATED WOODPECKER. 101 

and the little that it pilfers is much more than repaid by 
the immense numbers of injurious larvae that it destroys. 

Wilson, in a very interesting account of the general 
habits of this bird, says: 

" Almost every trunk in the forest where he resides bears the 
marks of his chisel. Wherever he perceives a tree beginning to 
decay, he examines it round and round with great skill and dex- 
terity, strips off the bark in sheets of five or six feet in length, to 
get at the hidden cause of the disease, and labors with a gayety and 
activity really surprising. He is sometimes observed among the 
hills of Indian corn, and it is said by some that he frequently feeds 
on it. Complaints of this kind are, however, not general ; many 
farmers doubting the fact, and conceiving that at these times he is 
in search of insects which lie concealed in the husk. I will not be 
positive that they never occasionally taste maize, yet I have opened 
and examined great numbers of these birds, killed in various parts 
of the United States, from Lake Ontario to the Alatamaha River, 
but never found a grain of Indian corn in their stomachs." 

Of its breeding habits I know nothing, and will give 
the description given by Rev. John Bachman, in a letter 
to Mr. Audubon. He says, in describing a nest that he 
found, 

" The hole was about eighteen inches deep, and I could touch 
the bottom with my hand. The eggs, which were laid on frag- 
ments of chips expressly left by the birds, were six, large, white, 
and translucent. Before the woodpeckers began to set, I robbed 
them of their eggs, to see if they would lay a second time. They 
waited a few days, as if undecided, when, on a sudden, I heard the 
female at work again in the tree. She once more deepened 
the hole, made it broader at the bottom, and recommenced laying. 
This time she laid five eggs. I suffered her to bring out her young, 
both sexes alternately incubating, each visiting the other at inter- 
vals, peeping into the hole to see that all was right and well there, 
and flying off afterwards in search of food." 



102 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



MELANERPES, SWAINSON. 

Melanerpes, SWAINSON, F. B. A., II. (1831) (type M. erylhrocephalus). 

Bill about equal to the head, broader than high at the base, but becoming com- 
pressed immediately anterior to the commencement of the gonys; culmen and gonys 
with a moderately decided angular ridge; both decidedly curved from the very 
base ; a rather prominent acute ridge commences at the base of the mandible, a little 
below the ridge of the culmen, and proceeds but a short distance anterior to the nos- 
trils (about one-third of the way), when it sinks down, and the bill is then smooth ; 
the lateral outlines are gently concave from the basal two-thirds, then gently convex 
to the tip, which does not exhibit any abrupt bevelling; nostrils open, broadly oval, 
not concealed by the feathers, nor entirely basal ; the outer pair of toes equal ; wings 
long, broad; third and fourth quills longest; tail feathers broad. 

The species all have the back black, without any spots or streaks anywhere. 



MELANERPES ERYTHROCEPHALUS. Swainson. 
The Red-headed Woodpecker. 

Picas erythrocephalus, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 174. Wilson, Am. Orn., 
I. (1810) 142. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1832). 

DESCRIPTION. 

Head and neck all round crimson-red, margined by a narrow crescent of black 
on the upper part of the breast; back, primary quills, and tail, bluish-black; under 
parts generally, a broad band across the middle of the wing, and the rump white ; 
iris hazel; bill and feet bluish-black. The female is not different. 

Length about nine and three-quarters inches; wing, five and a half. 

This handsome Woodpecker is a not very common summer 
inhabitant of New England. It makes its appearance from 
the South about the 10th of May. Its habits are similar to 
those of the other species ; and I recollect nothing of any 
importance that is peculiar to them except, perhaps, that 
these birds seem to be much fonder of the small fruits than 
either of the others. Wilson says of this fact : 

" Wherever there is a tree, or trees, of the wild cherry, covered 
with ripe fruit, there you see them busy among the branches ; and, 
in passing orchards, you may easily know where to find the earliest, 
sweetest apples, by observing those trees on or near which the 
Red-headed Woodpecker is skulking : for he is so excellent a con- 
noisseur in fruit, that, wherever an apple or pear is found broached 
by him, it is sure to be among the ripest and best flavored. When 




RKD-HEADED WOODPECKER, Melanerpes erythrocep/utlus. Swainson. 



THE RED-HEADED WOODPECKER. 103 

alarmed, he seizes a capital one by striking his open bill deep into 
it, and bears it off to the woods. When the Indian corn is in its 
rich, succulent, milky state, he attacks it with great eagerness, 
opening a passage through the numerous folds of the husk, and 
feeding on it with voracity. The girdled or deadened timber, so 
common among corn-fields in the back settlements, are his favorite 
retreats, whence he sallies out to make his depredations. He is 
fond of the ripe berries of the sour gum, and pays pretty regular 
visits to the cherry-trees, when loaded with fruit. Towards fall, he 
often approaches the barn or farm-house, and raps on the shingles 
and weather-boards : he is of a gay and frolicsome disposition ; and 
half a dozen of the fraternity are frequently seen diving and vocif- 
erating around the high, dead limbs of some large tree, pursuing 
and playing with each other, and amusing the passenger with their 
gambols. Their note, or cry, is shrill and lively ; and so much 
resembles that of a species of tree-frog, which frequents the same 
tree, that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the one from the 
other. 

" Such are the vicious traits, if I may so speak, in the character 
of the Red-headed Woodpecker ; and I doubt not but, from what 
has been said on this subject, that some readers would consider it 
meritorious to exterminate the whole tribe as a nuisance ; and, in 
fact, the legislatures of some of our provinces, in former times, 
offered premiums to the amount of twopence per head for their 
destruction. 1 But let us not condemn the species unheard: they 
exist, they must therefore be necessary. If their merits and 
usefulness be found, on examination, to preponderate against their 
vices, let us avail ourselves of the former, while we guard as well 
as we can against the latter. 

" Though this bird occasionally regales himself on fruit, yet his 
natural and most useful food is insects, particularly those numerous 
and destructive species that penetrate the bark and body of the 
tree to deposit their eggs and larvse, the latter of which are well 
known to make immense havoc. That insects are his natural food 
is evident from the construction of his wedge-formed bill, the 
length, elasticity, and figure of his tongue, and the strength and 
position of his claws, as well as from his usual habits. In fact, 

i KALM. 



104 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

insects form at least two-thirds of his subsistence ; and his stomach 
is scarcely ever found without them. He searches for them with a 
dexterity and intelligence, I may safely say, more than human : he 
perceives, by the exterior appearance of the bark, where they lurk 
below; when he is dubious, he rattles vehemently on the outside 
with his bill, and his acute ear distinguishes the terrified vermin 
shrinking within to their inmost retreats, where his pointed and 
barbed tongue soon reaches them. The masses of bugs, cater- 
pillars, and other larva?, which I have taken from the stomachs 
of these birds, have often surprised me. These larvae, it should be 
remembered, feed not only on the buds, leaves, and blossoms, but 
on the very vegetable life of the tree, the alburnum, or newly 
forming bark and wood. The consequence is, that the whole 
branches and whole trees decay under the silent ravages of these 
destructive vermin ; witness the late destruction of many hundred 
acres of pine-trees in the north-eastern parts of South Carolina, 
and the thousands of peach-trees that yearly decay from the same 
cause. Will any one say, that, taking half a dozen, or half a 
hundred, apples from a tree, is equally ruinous with cutting it 
down ? or that the services of a useful animal should not be 
rewarded with a small portion of that which it has contributed to 
preserve ? We are told, in the benevolent language of the Scrip- 
tures, not to muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the 
corn ; and why should not the same generous liberality be ex- 
tended to this useful family of birds, which forms so powerful a 
phalanx against the inroads of many millions of destructive ver- 
min?" 

About the middle of May, this species pairs, and soon 
commences excavating a hole in a tree, either in the woods 
or orchard, as he is not particular in his choice. This work 
is done by both the birds, who labor with industry and 
cheerfulness until the excavation is finished ; this is from 
fourteen to eighteen inches deep, and, like those of other 
woodpeckers, is roomy at the bottom, and tapering gradually 
to the entrance, which is only large enough for the comfort- 
able passage of the bird : it is not lined, but the bottom is 
partly covered with chips from the sides of the hole. The 



THE GOLDEN-WINGED WOODPECKER. 105 

eggs are generally five or six in number, and of a beautiful 
clear-white. Dr. Thompson says, in his " Birds of Ver- 
mont," that " they are marked with reddish spots at the 
large end." This was a mistake ; for the eggs of wood- 
peckers are always immaculate. The shell is smoother 
than that of any other woodpecker's egg of my acquaint- 
ance. Length of specimens vary from 1.07 to 1.12 inch, 
breadth from .77 to .84 inch. 

COLAPTES, SWAINSON. 

Colaptes, SWAINSON, Zool. Jour., III. (Dec. 1827) 353 (type C. auratus). 

Bill slender, depressed at the base, then compressed; culmen much curved; gonys 
straight, both with acute ridges, and coming to quite a sharp point with the com- 
missure at the end ; the bill consequently not truncate at the end ; no ridges on the 
bill; nostrils basal, median, oval, and exposed; gonys very short, about half the 
culmen ; feet large, the anterior outer toe considerably longer than the posterior; tail 
long, exceeding the secondaries, the feathers suddenly acuminate, with elongated 
points. 

COLAPTES AUEATUS. Swainson. 
The Golden-winged Woodpecker; Flicker; Pigeon Woodpecker. 

Picus auratus, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. (1766) 174. Wilson, Am. On., I. (1810) 45. 
Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1832) 191. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Shafts and under surfaces of wing and tail feathers gamboge-yellow ; a black 
patch on each side of the cheek; a red crescent on the nape; throat and stripe 
beneath the eye pale lilac-brown ; back glossed with olivaceous-green ; female with- 
out the black cheek patch ; a crescentic patch on the breast, and rounded spots on 
the belly, black ; back and wing coverts with interrupted transverse bands of black ; 
neck above and sides ashy. 

Length, about twelve and a half inches ; wing, six. 

This is a very common summer inhabitant of New Eng- 
land. It is probably the most abundant of all the wood- 
peckers, and is very generally known. It is in the southern 
districts of these States a resident throughout the year; 
and in Massachusetts I have often met with it in midwinter, 
when the season was not of the mildest either. They begin 
to arrive from the south at about the second week in 
March. 



106 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

The habits of this bird are so well known, that any 
description here seems to be a work of supererogation. 
About the first week in May, the males begin to pay court 
to the females ; at this period their movements are amusing. 

44 Their note is merriment itself, as it imitates a prolonged and 
jovial laugh, heard at a considerable distance. Several males pur- 
sue a female, reach her, and, to prove the force and truth of their 
love, bow their heads, spread their tails, and move sidewise, back- 
wards, and forwards, performing such antics as might induce any one 
witnessing them, if not of a most morose temper, to join his laugh 
to theirs. The female flies to another tree, where she is closely fol- 
lowed by one, two, or even half a dozen of these gay suitors, and 
where again the same ceremonies are gone through. No fightings 
occur, no jealousies seem to exist among these beaux, until a marked 
preference is shown to some individual, when the rejected proceed 
in search of another female. In this manner, all the Golden- 
winged Woodpeckers are soon happily mated. Each pair imme- 
diately proceed to excavate the trunk of a tree, and finish a hole in 
it sufficient to contain themselves and their young. They both 
work with great industry and apparent pleasure. Should the male, 
for instance, be employed, the female is close to him, and congratu- 
lates him on the removal of every chip which his bill sends 
through the air. "While he rests, he appears to be speaking to her 
on the most tender subjects, and when fatigued is at once assisted 
by her. In this manner, by the alternate exertions of each, the 
hole is dug and finished." AUDUBON. 

This is often as much as twenty inches in depth, and in 
a solid tree very often at that. On the bottom of this hole, 
the female lays six pure-white eggs : these are generally of 
uniform ovoidal shape, and vary in size from 1 to 1.16 inch 
in length, by from .82 to .92 in breadth. 

When the eggs are removed, the female, after a couple 
of days' deliberation, lays another litter ; and I have known 
of this being repeated several times by a bird that was 
unwilling to leave the nest which she and her mate had 
been at so much labor to prepare. Instances have occurred 




GOLDEN-WINGED WOODPECKER, Colaptes aurutas. Swainson. 



THE GOLDEN-WINGED WOODPECKER. 107 

of this bird's laying eighteen or twenty eggs in a few 
days, they being removed as soon as laid, and only two or 
three being left in the nest at a time. The food of this spe- 
cies consists of insects, berries, and grains. Ants are 
greedily eaten by it, and constitute no inconsiderable por- 
tion of its diet. On visiting the nest at night, I have very 
seldom been able to catch the old bird in it; she almost 
always heard my approach, and took flight : once I caught 
her on the nest ; but, as I put my hand in to secure her, she 
attacked it with fierce pecks of her bill, and made such an 
onslaught that I was glad to permit her to escape. But 
one brood is reared in the season. 



108 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



ORDER III. INSESSORES. PERCHERS. 

In accordance with the views of many systematic writers, 
it may perhaps be as well to retain an order Insessores, and to 
place in it the Strisores, Clamatores, and Oscines as sub-orders. 
The characters of the order will then consist chiefly in the posses- 
sion of three toes in front and one behind (or, at least, never with 
two toes directed backwards), as in Scansores. The claws are not 
retractile, nor the bill with a cere, as in the Raptores ; nor is the 
hind toe situated appreciably above the plane of the others, as in 
Rasores, Grallatores, and Natatores. 

The hind toe of the Insessores corresponds to the thumb or 
inner toe of the mammals, and is usually quite short. The joints 
of the anterior toes generally follow the law of number character- 
istic of birds ; namely, two to the hinder, three to the inner, four 
to the middle, and five to the outer toes : but a deviation is seen in 
some Strisores, where there are sometimes but three joints each to 
the anterior toes, and sometimes only four in the outer. The tarsi 
are generally covered anteriorly with plates, and furnished behind 
with granulations or small scales, or else with two long plates 
covering the sides, the latter feature especially characteristic of the 
Oscines, or singing-birds : in the latter alone is the tarsus some- 
times covered anteriorly with a single plate. Sometimes the tarsus 
is entirely or partly naked, or destitute of plates altogether. 

The carpal joint or the hand part of the wing is in most 
Insessores furnished with ten quills (primaries), although the first 
quill is sometimes very short, or even entirely wanting, as in many 
Oscines. The fore-arm has from six (in the Humming-birds) to 
thirteen quills, the average being eight or nine. 

There are certain peculiarities in the arrangement of he 
wing coverts of the different sub-orders of Insessores, constituting 
important distinctive features. Some of these will be hereafter 
referred to. 



ORDER III. INSESSORES. 109 

The tail of the Insessores exhibits considerable differences. 
The number of feathers is usually twelve ; sometimes ten only, as 
in the Strisores. 

The different groups of the order Insessores are subject to con- 
siderable variations in respect to the structure of the lower larynx 
attached to the trachea or windpipe just anterior to its division 
into the two bronchial tubes. Cuvier long since showed, that the 
true singing-birds had the larynx provided with a peculiar appa- 
ratus for the purpose of effecting a modulation of the voice, 
composed of five pairs of muscles, of which other birds were 
destitute in greater part, or entirely. The characteristic of the 
groups Strisores, Clamatores, and Oscines, and of their subdivisions, 
as will be shown hereafter, depend very much on these peculiarities 
of the larynx. 

The tongue of the Insessores varies to a considerable degree. 
In the Humming-birds, it is thread-like and bifurcated. In most 
other insessorial or perching birds, it is long or short, flat, and 
triangular, the posterior extremity bilobed, the anterior usually 
with the tip horny, serrated, or with fibres, more rarely smooth. 
These furnish important characteristics for the division into families, 
and even genera ; the variations being quite considerable. 

See Introduction, and vol. IX., Pacific R.R. Reports, 128. 



110 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



SUB-ORDER STRISORES. 



FAMILY TROCHILIDJE. THE HUMMING-BIRDS. 

There is no group of birds so interesting to the ornithologist or to the casual 
observer as the Humming-birds ; at once the smallest in size, the most gorgeously 
beautiful in color, and almost the most abundant in species of any single family of 
birds. They are strictly confined to the continent and islands of America, and are 
most abundant in the Central-American States ; though single species range almost 
to the Arctic regions on the north and to Patagonia on the south, as well as from 
the seacoast to the frozen summits of the Andes. The number of known species 
considerably exceeds three hundred, and new ones are being constantly brought to 
light; so that an estimate of four hundred species is, perhaps, not too large. Many 
are very limited in their range ; some confined to particular islands, even though of 
small dimensions. 

The bill of the Humming-bird is awl-shaped or subulate, thin, and sharp- 
pointed, straight or curved; sometimes as long as the head, sometimes much 
longer. The mandibles are excavated to the tip for the lodgement of the tongue, 
and form a tube by the close apposition of their cutting edges. There is no indica- 
tion of stiff bristly feathers at the base of the mouth. The tongue has some resem- 
blance to that of the Woodpeckers in the elongation of the cornua backwards, 
so as to pass round the back of the skull, and then anteriorly to the base of the 
bill. The tongue itself is of very peculiar structure, consisting anteriorly of two 
hollow threads closed at the ends and united behind. The food of the Humming- 
bird consists almost entirely of insects, which are captured by protruding the tongue 
into flowers of various shapes, without opening the bill very wide. 

The wings of the Humming-birds are long and falcate ; the shafts very strong ; 
the primaries usually ten in number, the first always longest ; there are six seconda- 
ries. The tail has but ten feathers. The feet are small ; the claws very sharp and 
strong. 1 

The species known to inhabit the United States, though few, are yet nearly twice 
as many as given by Mr. Audubon. It is probable that additional ones will here- 
after be detected, particularly on our southern borders. 

The different authors who have made a specialty of the Humming-birds have 
named a great many sub-families and genera ; but there has as yet been no published 
systematic description of the higher groups. It is probable that the North-Ameri- 

1 Most of the above general remarks are borrowed from Burmeister (Thiere Bra- 
siliens, Vogel, 311), to which I would refer for an excellent article on the structure 
and habits of Humming-birds. 



THE RUBY-THROATED HUMMING-BIRD. HI 

can species belong to two different sub-families, the Lampornithince and the Tro- 
chilince, and to at least four genera; but the precise character and limits' of these I 
am unable to give. The following remarks, however, may serve to sketch out the 
characters of the North- American species : 

A. Edges of mandible serrated near the end ; throat without metallic, scale-like 
feathers. 

Lampornis. Bill depressed, slightly curved ; tail broad, slightly emarginate, the 
outer feather as broad as the rest; wings reaching the tip of tail; no metallic 
feathers on the throat. 

B. Edges of mandible nearly even towards the tip, without distinct serrations; 
throat with metallic, scale-like feathers. 

Trochilus. Feathers of throat but little elongated laterally; lateral tail feathers 
but little narrower than the others, and lanceolate-acute ; tail forked. 

Selasphorus. Feathers of the throat much elongated laterally into a ruff; lateral 
tail feathers much narrower than the middle ones, and linear in shape, or with the 
sides parallel to the end, which is rounded ; tail graduated or cuneate ; outer primary 
attenuated at the tip ; crown without metallic scales. 

Atthis. Similar to the last, but the top of the head with metallic scales like the 
throat ; the outer primary not attenuated ; tail emarginated, or deeply forked. 

TROCHILUS, LINN^US. 

TROCHILUS COLUBEIS. Linnceus. 
The Ruby-throated Humming-bird. 

TrocMus colubris, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat, I. (1766) 191. Wilson, Am. Orn., II. 
(1810) 26. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1832) 248. 76., Birds Amer., IV. (1842) 190. 
Ornismya colubris, Deville. Rev. et. Mag. Zool. (May, 1852) (habits). 

DESCRIPTION. 

Tail in the male deeply forked, the feathers all narrow lanceolate-acute ; in the 
females lightly rounded and emarginate; the feathers broader, though pointed; male, 
uniform metallic-green above ; a ruby-red gorget with no conspicuous ruff; a white 
collar on the throat; sides of body greenish; tail feathers uniformly brownish-violet; 
female, without the red on the throat ; the tail is rounded and emarginate, the 
inner feathers shorter than the outer; the tail feathers banded with black, and 
the outer tipped with white; no rufous or cinnamon on the tail in either sex. 

Length, three and twenty-five one-hundredths inch; wing, one and sixty one- 
hundredths; tail, one and twenty-five one-hundredths inch; bill, sixty-five one- 
hundredths. 

THIS beautiful little winged gem is distributed through- 
out New England as a summer visitor. It arrives 
from the south from about the 15th to the 25th of May, 
according to latitude, and usually in pairs. The first notice 
that we have of his arrival is a humming sound, and now 



112 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

and then a sharp chirp, like that of a large beetle, among 
the earliest flowers in the garden. We look in the direction 
of the sound, and perceive our little stranger darting about, 




and thrusting his bill and little head into the flowers, 
busily searching for the small insects that inhabit them, 
and which constitute the principal part of his food. While 
we are looking at him, he suddenly alights on a twig, 
turns his gorgeous throat towards us, and scans us with 
his bright little black eyes. While he is perched, he busies 
himself in arranging his plumage, and cleaning from his 
feathers the drops of dew that have perhaps fallen upon 
him, uttering occasionally his merry chirp ; presently his 
.mate appears, and alights by his side. The little lovers (for 
they are still such) then indulge in mutual caresses, and 
apparently talk over with much earnestness their plans for 
future housekeeping. Woe to another humming-bird, if he 
comes in sight! for our little friend is not only jealous 
of his mate, but is very quarrelsome also, and protects his 
honor with great courage. As he darts off like a bullet at 
the intruder, his mate watches with no little interest for the 
results of the battle that is inevitable. The two males meet 
in the air, and fierce is the contest ; their little wings beat 
the air with such force that their humming is heard at the 



THE RUBY-THROATED HUMMING-BIRD. 113 

distance of several rods ; up they mount, rushing against 
and striking each other with their sharp little bills, until 
they are both lost to the sight : presently our acquaintance 
descends to the twig where his mate is seated, and struts 
before her with a pride much larger than his body, ap- 
parently anxious for her approval of his courage. She 
caresses him; and, after he has adjusted his plumage, off 
they shoot for other scenes and pleasures. 1 

About the first week in June, the Humming-bird com- 
mences building its nest : this is composed of a soft down, 
that is taken from the stems of some of the ferns ; it is 
covered entirely with lichens, which are glued on with the 
saliva of the bird, giving it the appearance of a mossy knot. 
It is usually built on the upper side of a limb ; but I have 
known of cases of its being built in a forked twig. The 
whole fabric is about an inch and a half in diameter, and 
about that in depth externally ; it is hollowed about half an 
inch, and is three-fourths of an inch in diameter internally; 
it is lined with soft, downy substances detached from flying 
seeds. The eggs are two in number, white, and nearly 
elliptical in shape, being of about equal size at both ends. 
Length of eggs, about .45 inch ; breadth, about .31 inch. I 
am inclined to think, that, in the latitude of New England, 
this bird raises only one brood in the season ; but further 
south it undoubtedly rears two. The period of incubation 
is ten days. 

On approaching the nest, the parent bird immediately 
flies at the intruder ; and it was by this means that I have 
been enabled to find specimens of the nests, when I could 
not possibly have done so if their locality had not been 
betrayed by the bird herself. I have heard of young birds 
being taken from the nest when nearly fledged, kept for 
several weeks, and fed with nothing but sweetened water ; 

1 I had written this incident before I noticed the similar one given by Wilson. I 
will let it remain, however, because it is an instance of scenes common in the life 
of this bird. 

8 



114 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

but they always died after a short confinement, and I believe 
that it is impossible to keep this bird as a pet, from the 
fact that its actual food is insects, and it cannot live on any 
other. 

Wilson gives the following facts in relation to this. He 
says : 

" The singularity of this little bird has induced many persons to 
attempt to raise them from the nest, and accustom them to the 
cage. Mr. Coffer, of Fairfax County, Va., a gentleman who, has 
paid great attention to the manners and peculiarities of our native 
birds, told me that he raised and kept two, for some months, in a 
cage, supplying them with honey dissolved in water, on which they 
readily fed. As the sweetness of the liquid frequently brought 
small flies and gnats about the cage and cup, the birds amused 
themselves by snapping at them on wing, and swallowing them 
with eagerness, so that these insects formed no inconsiderable part 
of their food. Mr. Charles Wilson Peale, proprietor of the 
Museum, tells me that he had two young Humming-birds, which 
he raised from the nest. They used to fly about the room, and 
would frequently perch on Mrs. Peale's shoulder to be fed. When 
the sun shone strongly in the chamber $ he has observed them dart- 
ing after the motes that floated in the light, as Flycatchers would 
after flies. In the summer of 1803, a nest of young Humming- 
birds was brought me, that were nearly fit to fly. One of them 
actually flew out by the window the same evening, and, falling 
against a wall, was killed. The other refused food, and the next 
morning I could but just perceive that it had life. A lady in the 
house undertook to be its nurse, placed it in her bosom, and, as it 
began to revive, dissolved a little sugar in her mouth, into which 
she thrust its bill, and it sucked with great avidity. In this man- 
ner, it was brought up until fit for the cage. I kept it upwards 
of three months, supplied it with loaf sugar dissolved in water, 
which it preferred to honey and water, gave it fresh flowers every 
morning sprinkled with the liquid, and surrounded the space in 
which I kept it with gauze, that it might not injure itself. It 
appeared gay, active, and full of spirit, hovering from flower to 
flower as if in its native wilds ; and always expressed, by its 
motions and chirping, great pleasure at seeing fresh flowers intro- 



THE RUBY-THROATED HUMMING-BIRD. 115 

duced to its cage. Numbers of people visited it from motives of 
curiosity ; and I took every precaution to preserve it, if possible, 
through the winter. Unfortunately, however, by some means it 
got at large; and, flying about the room, so injured itself that it 
soon after died. 

" This little bird is extremely susceptible of cold ; and, if long 
deprived of the animating influence of the sunbeams, droops, and 
soon dies. A very beautiful male was brought me this season 
(1809), which I put into a wire cage, and placed in a retired, 
shaded part of the room. After fluttering about for some time, the 
weather being uncommonly cool, it clung by the wires, and hung in 
a seemingly torpid state for a whole forenoon. No motion what- 
ever of the lungs could be perceived, on the closest inspection, 
though, at other times, this is remarkably observable ; the eyes 
were shut ; and, when touched by the finger, it gave no signs 
of life or motion. I carried it out to the open air, and placed it 
directly in the rays of the sun, in a sheltered situation. In a few 
seconds, respiration became very apparent ; the bird breathed 
faster and faster, opened its eyes, and began to look about, with as 
much seeming vivacity as ever. After it had completely recov- 
ered, I restored it to liberty ; and it flew off to the withered top 
of a pear-tree, where it sat for some time dressing its disordered 
plumage, and then shot off like a meteor." 

About the latter part of August, or perhaps by the 8th or 
10th of September, the Humming-bird takes his departure 
for the south. The young birds travel with their parents, 
or, at any rate, leave this section with them; for I have 
invariably noticed that these little groups were together up 
to the time when they left. The parents return to the same 
breeding-place in the succeeding year; and I have known of 
a pair breeding on the same apple-tree for three successive 
seasons. 



116 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



FAMILY CYPSELIDJE. THE SWIFTS. 

Bill very small, without notch, triangular, much broader than high, the culmen 
not one-sixth the gape; anterior toes cleft to the base, each with three joints (in the 
typical species), and covered with skin, the middle claw without any serrations, 
the lateral toes nearly equal to the middle; bill without bristles, but with minute 
feathers extending along the under margin of the nostrils ; nostrils elongated, supe- 
rior, and very close together; plumage compact; primaries ten, elongated, falcate. 

CHJETURA, STEPHENS. 

Chcetura, STEPHENS. Shaw's Gen. Zool. Birds, XIII. (1825) 76 (type C. 
pelasgia). 

Tail very short, scarcely more than two-fifths the wings, slightly rounded, the 
shafts stiffened and extending some distance beyond the feathers in a rigid spine ; 
first primary longest; legs covered by a naked skin, without scutellse or feathers; 
tarsus longer than middle toe ; lateral toes equal, nearly as long as the middle ; hind 
toe scarcely versatile, or quite posterior, with the claw, less than the middle anterior 
without it ; toes slender, claws moderate ; feathers of the base of the bill not extend- 
ing beyond the beginning of the nostrils. 

CHJETURA PELASGIA. Stephens. 
The Chimney Swallow. 

Hirundo pelasgia, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. I. (1766) 345. Wils. Am. Orn. V. 
(1812) 48. 

Cypselus pelasgia, Audubon. Orn. Biog. II. (1834) 329; V. 419. 

Chcetura pelasgia, Stephens. Shaw's Gen. Zool. Birds, XIII. (1825) 76. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Tail slightly rounded ; of a sooty-brown all over, except on the throat, which, 
becomes considerably lighter from the breast to the bill; above with a greenish 
tinge; the rump a little paler. 

Length, five and a quarter inches ; wing, five ten one-hundredths ; tail, two fifteen 
one-hundredths. 

THIS well-known bird is a common summer inhabitant 
of New England. It arrives in great numbers from 
the South, about the 1st to the 10th of May. Immediately 
on arriving, the birds pair, and commence building. The 
nest is usually constructed in an unused flue of a chimney ; 
but, before the country was settled, they bred, and I have no 



THE CHIMNEY SWALLOW. 117 

doubt that great numbers of them in thinly settled districts 
still breed in hollow trees. The nest is composed of twigs, 
which are glued* together and to the side of the chimney 
with the saliva of the bird. It is lined with a few feathers 
and straws. The strength of these structures is wonderful ; 
and they are so durable that I have known of instances 
of their remaining in the chimney during three seasons. 
'Usually, the bird displays great sagacity in the choice of a 
location for a nest, in securing protection from storms and 
from the attacks of animals ; but occasionally the nest is 
built in a chimney, open at the top sufficiently wide to 
permit the rain to trickle down the sides : the result is, that 
the moisture softens the glue by which the nest is attached 
to the chimney, and it is, with its living contents, precipi- 
tated to the bottom. Again, if the nest is built too low in 
the chimney, the young or eggs furnish agreeable food for 
rats, which, unfortunately, are sometimes found in dwelling- 
houses in the country in uncomfortable numbers. The eggs 
are generally four or five in number, pure-white in color, 
rather long in shape. Dimensions of five eggs, in a nest 
collected in Upton, Me. : .84 by .44 inch, .81 by .46 inch, 
.80 by .46 inch, .78 by .48 inch, .76 by .51 inch. 

This species is almost nocturnal in its habits. From earli- 
est dawn until seven or eight in the morning, it is busy in 
the pursuit of insects : it then retires to its roosting-places 
in the chimneys, and is seldom seen until late in the after- 
noon. From early twilight until late in the night, it is again 
actively employed ; and, having heard its notes, as it sped 
through the air, often as late as midnight, I have no doubt 
that, in pleasant weather, it is busy through the whole 
night. 

In descending the chimneys where their young are, the 
birds fly rapidly until they are immediately over them, when, 
partially closing their wings, they drop suddenly, and with 
apparent ease, down the flue. 

In ascending, the noise of their wings in the chimney is 



118 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

like that of distant thunder. The flight of these birds is 
very rapid, surpassing, I think, that of any other species : 
it is so peculiar, the long wings vibrating in short, quick, 
energetic strokes, that it furnishes a ready means of dis- 
tinguishing it, from all other species, at a great height. 

About sunset, the great multitudes of these birds are out, 
and the numbers of insects they destroy must be immense. 
Everywhere they may be seen : away up in the blue sky, as 
far as the eye can reach, they are coursing in wide-extended 
circles, chasing each other in sport, and even caressing and 
feeding their mates while on the wing ; a little lower, they 
are speeding over the tops of the trees, gleaning the insects 
that have just left the foliage ; over the surface of the lake 
or river they fly so low, in the pursuit of aquatic insects, 
that their wings often touch the water ; everywhere they 
are busy. Truly, they are deserving of much better treat- 
ment than they too often receive at the hands of the farmer, 
to whom they are his best friends ; yet it is a fact, that, in 
a great many sections, they are driven from the chimneys 
of the farm-houses, and even destroyed, at every oppor- 
tunity. 

About the last of August, the Chimney Swallow, in large 
scattered flocks, leaves for the South, and spends the winter 
in Honduras and the West Indies. On returning in the 
spring, the same pair occupies the chimney used in the pre- 
vious season, as has been proved by actual observation. 



THE WHIPPOORWILL. 119 

FAMILY CAPRIMULGIDJE. THE GOAT-SUCKERS. 
Sub-Family CAPRIMULGIN^E. 

Bill very short, triangular, the culmen less than one-sixth the gape ; the anterior 
toes united at the base by a membrane; the inner anterior toe with three joints, the 
others with four, all with distinct scutellae above; the toe much elongated, its middle 
claw pectinated on the inner edge ; hind toe directed a little more than half for- 
wards ; tarsi partly feathered superiorly ; the bill more or less bristled, the nostrils 
separated, rather nearer the commissure than the culmen ; plumage soft, lax, and 
owl-like ; primary quills, ten ; secondaries, eleven or twelve. 

ANTROSTOMUS, GOULD. 

Antrostomus, GOULD. Icones Avium (1838), Agassiz. 

Bill remarkably small, with tubular nostrils, and the gape with long, stiff, some- 
times pectinated, bristles ; wings long, somewhat rounded, second quill longest, the 
primaries emarginated ; tail rounded ; plumage loose and soft. 

ANTROSTOMUS VOCIFERUS. Bonaparte. 
The Whippoorwill. 

Caprimulgus vodferus, Wilson. Am. Orn., V. (1812) 71; Aud. Orn. Biog., I. 
(1832)443; V. 405. 

Antrostomus vociferus, Bonaparte. List, 1838. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bristles without lateral filaments; wing about six and a half inches long; top of 
the head ashy-brown, longitudinally streaked with black; terminal half of the tail 
feathers (except the four central) dirty-white on both outer and inner webs; iris dark- 
hazel. Female, without, white on the tail. 

Length, ten inches; wing, six and a half. 

THIS familiar species is a summer inhabitant of New 
England : it arrives from the South about the second 
week in May. Its habits are not well known, as it is not a 
very common species, and it inhabits the most secluded spots 
in the deep woods ; but its song is well known to all, as are 
its nocturnal wanderings in search for insect food. This 
bird, as also the Night-hawk, is, to the farmer, one of the 
most valuable among the feathered tribes : its food consists 
almost entirely of night-flying Lepidoptera, and the number 
of these insects destroyed is immense. 



120 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

The peculiar song of this bird is heard at early eve, and 
until late into the night, during the mating and part of the 
breeding seasons. It is not uttered in the depths of the wil- 
derness alone ; but the bird, perching on the well-sweep, on 
the eaves of a low shed, or even on the door-sill of the farm- 
er's house, pours out its melancholy strain. The descrip- 
tion, by Alexander Wilson, of the habits of this bird, is so 
accurate and comprehensive, that I will not presume to 
attempt another. He says: 

" The notes seem pretty plainly to articulate the words which 
have been generally applied to them, whip-poor-will, the first and 
last syllables being uttered with great emphasis, and the whole in 
about a second to each repetition ; but, when two or more males 
meet, their whip-poor-will altercations become much more rapid 
and incessant, as if each were straining to overpower or silence the 
other. When near, you often hear an introductory cluck between 
the notes. At these times, as well as at almost all others, they fly 
low, not more than a few feet from the surface, skimming about the 
house and before the door, alighting on the wood-pile, or settling on 
the roof. Towards midnight, they generally become silent, unless 
in clear moonlight, when they are heard, with little intermission, 
till morning. If there be a creek near, with high, precipitous, 
bushy banks, they are sure to be found in such situations. During 
the day, they sit in the most retired, solitary, and deep-shaded parts 
of the woods, generally on high ground, where they repose in 
silence. When disturbed, they rise within a few feet, sail low and 
slowly through the woods for thirty or forty yards, and generally 
settle on a low branch or on the ground. Their sight appears 
deficient during the day, as, like owls, they seem then to want that 
vivacity for which they are distinguished in the morning and even- 
ing twilight. They are rarely shot at or molested ; and, from being 
thus transiently seen in the obscurity of dusk, or in the deep um- 
brage of the woods, no wonder their particular markings of plumage 
should be so little known, or that they should be confounded with 
the Night-hawk, whom, in general appearance, they so much re- 
semble. The female begins to lay about the second week in May, 
selecting, for this purpose, the most unfrequented part of the wood, 



THE WHIPPOORWILL. 121 

often where some brush, old logs,, heaps of leaves, &c., had been 
lying, and always on a dry situation." 

The Whippoorwill constructs no nest, bat lays its eggs, 
which are two in number, in a slight hollow which it 
scratches in the earth, usually near a rock, or fallen trunk 
of a tree. These eggs are of an elliptical form, being as 
large at one end as at the other; their ground-color is a 
delicate creamy-white, with blotches, lines, and spots of 
different shades of light-brown and lavender : taken alto- 
gether, it is one of the handsomest eggs found in New Eng- 
land. The length of several specimens before me varies 
from 1.21 to 2.27 inches, breadth from .75 to .79 inch. The 
bird commences laying about the last week in May, and the 
period of incubation is fourteen days. 

The young are soon able to walk, and in a very few days 
can run with considerable speed ; and they hide with such 
adroitness that it is a work of no little difficulty to capture 
them. The female, when her young are discovered, imme- 
diately throws herself before the intruder, counterfeiting 
lameness so well, that, unless he is well acquainted with 
the habits of birds, he will quickly be misled into following 
her. As soon as the young birds are able to shift for them- 
selves, they are turned adrift by their parents, and are seen 
only singly, or at most in pairs, during the remainder of 
their stay. By the latter part of August, or seldom later 
than the 10th of September, all of them depart for the 
South, the old males remaining a few days later ; uttering, 
occasionally, their song, but always in the woods, or in 
localities far removed from human habitation. 

CHORDEILES, SWAINSON. 

SWAINSON. Fauna Bor. Amer. (1831) 496. 

Bill very small, the gape with very short, feeble bristles; wings very long and 
pointed, with the first quill nearly or quite equal to the second, and the primaries not 
emarginated on the inner edge; tail long, slightly forked in the North-American 
species; plumage rather compact. 



122 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

CHORDEILES POPETUE. Baird. 
The Night-hawk; Bull Bat. 

Caprimulffus popetue, Vieillot. Ois. Am. Sept., I. (1807) 56. 
Caprimulgus Americanus, Wilson, V. (1812) 65. 
Caprimulyus Virginianus. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 273. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Male, above greenish-black, with but little mottling on the head and back ; wing 
coverts varied with grayish; scapulars with yellowish-rufous; a nuchal band of fine 
gray mottling, behind which is another coarser one of rufous spots; a white 
V-shaped mark on the throat; behind this a collar of pale-rufous blotches, and 
another on the breast of grayish mottling ; under parts banded transversely with 
dull-yellowish or reddish-white and brown ; wing quills quite uniformly brown ; the 
five outer primaries with a white blotch midway between the tip and carpal 
joint, not extending on the outer web of the outer quill; tail with a terminal white 
patch. 

Female, without the caudal white patch, the white of the throat mixed with 
reddish. 

Length of male, nine and fifty one-hundredths inches; wing, eight and twenty 
one-hundredths inches. 

This bird is much more abundantly distributed through- 
out New England than the preceding; and its habits are, 
consequently, better known. It arrives from the south 
about the 10th of May. At this time, great numbers may 
be observed, at early twilight, coursing through the air in 
different directions, sometimes at a great height, sometimes 
just above the trees in the country, or houses in the city ; 
occasionally, very near the earth or water, or, when near 
the seacoast, but just above the marshes, where they destroy 
great numbers of insects. Their flight is very rapid, their 
long wings giving quick, powerful sweeps ; and, as they dart 
about in many eccentric movements, busily gleaning their 
food, they utter, at oft-repeated intervals, their short note 
or squeak, which almost exactly resembles that of the Com- 
mon Snipe. 

About the middle of May, or by the 20th of that month, 
in Maine, the male commences his attentions to the female. 
His movements at this time are interesting, and, from their 
common occurrence, familiar to all who live in the country. 



THE NIGHT-HAWK. 123 

At early evening, and in cloudy weather throughout the 
greater part of the day, he ascends into the air ; and when 
he has attained a considerable height, partially closing his 
wings, he drops with great velocity through the distance of 
seventy-five or one hundred feet, sometimes nearly to the 
earth. The sound made by the air passing through the wing 
quills is so loud that I have often heard it at certainly the 
distance of half a mile : it resembles, as Nuttall truly says, 
the sound produced by blowing into the bung-hole of an 
empty hogshead. This act is often repeated, the bird darting 
about at the same time in every direction, and uttering his 
sharp squeak. Wilson was of the opinion, that this habit of 
the Night-hawk was confined to the period of incubation; 
the male acting in this manner, as he thought, to intimidate 
any person from approaching the nest. I have had abun- 
dant opportunities for observing the bird in all times of the 
summer, and during its stay with us ; and I should unhesi- 
tatingly affirm, that, from the time of early courtship, until 
the young are hatched, if not after, the male acts in this 
manner. 

This species constructs no nest, but lays its eggs on the 
bare ground in a slight hollow scratched by the female, or 
often on a bare rock. I have found numbers of these eggs, 
particularly in the northern parts of Maine, where, in walk- 
ing over a pasture or rocky field, I have flushed sometimes 
a bird in every ten rods. I remember a ledge of rocks 
back of the settlement known as Wilson's Mills, which 
seemed a favorite breeding-place for these birds ; and, in the 
space of every four or five rods, a female was sitting on her 
eggs. The eggs are two in number, elliptical in shape, of 
a dirty- white color, which is covered with fine dottings 
of different shades of brown, with obscure markings of 
slate-color, and some spots of lavender. Length from 1.23 
to 1.25 inch ; breadth, from .82 to .85 inch. A great num- 
ber of specimens from different sections do not exhibit an 
appreciable variation from these dimensions. In the south- 



124 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

ern districts, it lays about the 20th of May ; in the northern, 
about the 10th of June. 

The male assists the female in incubating, as I have wit- 
nessed many times. When perched by her on a tree or 
fence-rail, during thelight of mid-day, he always sits along 
the limb or rail, instead of across it a peculiarity which is 
also noticeable in the Whippoorwill. Some authors, in speak- 
ing of this fact, explain it by noticing the comparatively 
small size of the feet, and apparent weakness of the legs. 
I think this can hardly be a sufficient cause ; for both these 
birds, while on the ground, can run with considerable speed, 
and, if captured, can not only perch across the finger of a 
hand or the back of a chair, as I have often proved, but can 
rest on one foot, drawing the other up into the feathers 
of the belly, like other birds. 

About the 20th of August, after the young have become 
able to provide for themselves, all the families in a neigh- 
borhood assemble in a large, scattered flock; and, after 
having become completely recruited from the labors of incu- 
bation, they all leave for the south. 



THE BELTED KINGFISHER. 125 



SUB-ORDER CLAMATORES. SCREAMERS. 



FAMILY ALCEDINIDJE. THE KINGFISHERS. 

Head large ; bill long, strong, straight, and sub-pyramidal, usually longer than 
the head; tongue very small; wings short; legs small, the outer and middle toes 
united to their middle; toes with the usual number of joints (2, 3, 4, 5). 

The gape of the bill in the Kingfishers is large, reaching to beneath the eyes; 
the third primary is generally longest, the first decidedly shorter; the secondaries 
vary from twelve to fifteen in number, all nearly equal; the secondaries cover at 
least three-quarters of the wing ; the tail is short, the feathers twelve in number, 
they are rather narrow, the outer usually shorter; the lower part of the tibia is bare, 
leaving the joint and the tarsus uncovered; the tarsus is covered anteriorly with 
plates, behind, it is shagreen-like or granulated; the hind toe is connected with the 
inner, so as to form with it and the others a regular sole, which extends unbroken 
beneath the middle and outer as far as the latter are united; the inner toe is much 
shorter than the outer; the claws are sharp, the middle expanded on its inner edge, 
but not pectinated. 

CERYLE, BOIE. 

Ceryle, BOIE, Isis (1828) 316 (type C. rudis). 

Bill long, straight, and strong, the culmen slightly advancing on the forehead, 
and sloping to the acute tip; the sides much compressed; the lateral margins rather 
dilated at the base, and straight to the tip; the gonys long and ascending; tail 
rather long and broad ; tarsi short and stout. 

CERYLE ALCYON. Bow. 
The Belted Kingfisher. 

Alcedo alcyon, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 180. Wilson, Am. Orn., III. 
(1811) 59. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1831) 394. 
Ceryle alcyon, Boie. Isis, (1828) 316. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Head with a long crest; above blue, without metallic lustre; beneath, with a con- 
cealed band across the occiput, and a spot anterior to the eye, pure-white; a band 
across the breast, and the sides of the body under the wings, like the back ; prima- 
ries white on the basal half, the terminal unspotted; tail with transverse bands and 
spots of white. 

Young, with the sides of body and a transverse band across the belly below the 
pectoral one, light-chestnut; the pectoral band more or less tinged with the same. 

Length of adult, about twelve and three-quarters inches ; wing, six or more. 

Hob. The entire continent of North America. 



126 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

THIS species is a very common summer inhabitant of all 
the New-England States. It arrives from the south 
about the 1st of April, often earlier, particularly in early 
springs : indeed, Mr. Verrill says they are sometimes seen 
in Maine in winter, and they are often found in the southern 
districts of these States in this season. The birds, on arriv- 
ing, commence pairing ; and they soon begin excavating in a 
sand-bank a long, winding hole of about three inches and 
a half in diameter at the entrance, and gradually larger to 
the end, at which the nest, composed of grasses, leaves, and 
feathers, is built, or laid, which would perhaps be the better 
term. This hole is sometimes as much as six or eight feet, 
usually, from four to six, in length. The female deposits in 
this nest six eggs usually : these are of a clear-white color, 
and of a nearly spherical shape, being from 1.35 to 1.42 
inch in length, by from 1.05 to 1.08 inch in breadth. I am 
aware that these measurements exceed any heretofore given ; 
but they are accurately taken from a large number of speci- 
mens in my collection. Dr. Brewer gives the dimensions 
as averaging l T 5 g- in length by l T a g- in breadth. The period 
of incubation is stated by Audubon and other ornithologists 
to be sixteen days. 

The habits of this bird are so well known that any 
description here is almost superfluous. Its food, as its 
name implies, consists almost entirely of fish, which he 
obtains by diving into the water, and seizing with his bill. 
When passing over a sheet of water, he attentively scans 
the surface beneath him: if he observes a small fish, he 
pauses in his flight, and remains over it a few seconds, 
maintaining his position by short, quick vibrations of his 
wings. If the fish is sufficiently near the surface, he sud- 
denly dives at it, and, plunging into the water, seizes it, and 
bears it off to some rock or post, where he can eat it at his 
leisure. The note of the Kingfisher is a loud, harsh cry, 
similar to the sound of a watchman's rattle : it is easily 
heard above the rushing of the waters at a dam or other 



THE BELTED KINGFISHER. 127 

waterfall, and, when heard in such a locality, is not disagree- 
able. When perched on a limb overhanging the water, he 
frequently jets his tail in the manner of the Pewee, and 
often descends from such a perch and seizes a frog or a fish ; 
and I once shot one that had just seized a meadow mouse 
(arvicola) in this manner. The young usually remain in 
the hole in the bank until they are about fledged. I am 
inclined to think, that usually they return to these holes at 
night and in stormy weather, as I have frequently seen 
them about their nests long after they were fledged, and 
have even seen them passing into them at the close of the 
day. In migrating, the young leave their parents, and 
these even separate, and pursue their journey alone ; and it 
is a case of rare occurrence that two are seen together 
after the latter part of August. 



128 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



FAMILY COLOPTERIDJE. THE FLYCATCHERS. 
Sub-Family TYRANNIN^:. Tyrant Flycatchers. 

Bill broader than high at the base, much depressed, more or less triangular; cul- 
men nearly as long as the head, or shorter, straight to near the tip, then suddenly 
bent down into a conspicuous hook, with a notch behind it; tip of lower jaw also 
notched ; commissure straight to near the notch ; gonys slightly convex ; nostrils 
oval or rounded in the anterior extremity of the nasal groove, and more or less 
concealed by long bristles which extend from the posterior angle of the jaws along 
the base of the bill, becoming smaller, but reaching nearly to the median line of the 
forehead; these bristles with lateral branches at the base; similar bristles mixed in 
the loral feathers and margining the chin ; tarsi short, generally less than the middle 
toe, completely enveloped by a series of large scales which meet near the posterior 
edge of the inner side, and are separated either by naked skin or by a row of small 
scales. Sometimes a second series of rather large plates is seen on the posterior 
face of the tarsus; these, however, usually on .the upper extremity only; basal joint 
of middle toe united almost throughout to that of the outer toe, but more than half 
free on the inner side; outer lateral toe rather the longer; wings and tail variable, 
first quill always more than three-fourths the second ; the outer primaries sometimes 
attenuated near the tip. 

TYRANNUS, CUVIER. 

Tyrannus, CUVIER, Lecons Anat. Comp., 1799-1800 (Agassiz). 

Tail nearly even, or moderately forked, rather shorter than the wings; the 
feathers broad, and widening somewhat at the ends; wings long and pointed; 
the outer primaries rather abruptly attenuated near the end, the attenuated portion 
not linear, however; head with a concealed patch of red on the crown. 

TYRANNUS CAROLINENSIS. Baird. 
King-bird; Bee Martin. 

Lanius tyrannus, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 136. This belongs to the Cuban 
T. matutinus, according to Bonaparte. 

Muscicnpa tyrannus (Brisson?), Wilson. Am. Orn., I. (1808) 66. Aud. Orn. 
Biog., I. (1832) 403; V. (1839) 420. lb., Birds Amer., I. (1840) 204. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Two, sometimes three, outer primaries abruptly attenuated at the end ; second 
quill longest, third little shorter, first rather longer than fourth, or nearly equal; 
tail slightly rounded, above dark bluish-ash; the top and sides of the head to 
beneath the eyes bluish-black; a concealed crest on the crown, vermilion in the 



THE KING-BIRD. 129 

centre, white behind, and before partially mixed with orange; lower parts pure- 
white, tinged with pale bluish-ash on the sides of the throat and across the breast; 
sides of the breast and under the wings similar to, but rather lighter than, the back; 
axillaries pale grayish-brown tipped with lighter; the wings dark-brown, darkest 
towards the ends of the quills ; the greater coverts and quills edged with white, 
most so on the tertials; the lesser coverts edged with paler; upper tail coverts 
and upper surface of the tail glossy -black, the latter very dark brown beneath; 
all the feathers tipped, and the exterior margined externally with white, form- 
ing a conspicuous terminal band about twenty-five one-hundredths of an inch 
broad. 

The young of the year is similar, the colors duller, the concealed colored patch 
on the crown wanting ; the tail more rounded, the primaries not attenuated. 

Specimens vary in the amount of white margining the wing feathers ; the upper 
tail coverts are also margined sometimes with white. 

Length, eight and fifty one-hundredths inches ; wing, four and sixty-five one- 
hundredths inches; tail, three and seventy one-hundredths inches ; tarsus, seventy- 
five one-hundredths inches. 

THIS common species is abundantly distributed through- 
out New England as a summer resident. It arrives 
from the South about the 1st to the 10th of May : the males 
precede the females in small parties of three or four, the 
latter arriving about a week or ten days later. 

Soon after the arrival of the females, the males begin 
their attentions to them ; and, as the season of courtship is 
comparatively short, the new-made couple soon begin their 
selection of a locality for their nest. This seems to be with 
them a rather difficult matter to settle ; for I have known of 
a pair remaining in an orchard a fortnight, examining every 
tree and its peculiar advantages, before they made a selec- 
tion. 

At last, when the location is decided, both birds com- 
mence work, and the nest is soon completed. It is usually 
placed on the branch of an apple or pear tree, in a small 
cluster of twigs or a crotch of a limb : it is constructed 
outwardly of coarse grasses, mosses, twigs, roots, and 
weeds; and is deeply hollowed, and lined with fine roots, 
horse-hairs, and grasses. About the 1st of June, the eggs 
are laid : these are usually five in number ; their ground- 
color is a very delicate creamy- white, with irregular spatters 
and spots of different shades of brown, and some obscure 

9 



130 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

spots of lavender. Dimensions of a nest complement of 
five eggs: 1.06 by .71 inch ; 1.04 by .70 inch ; 1.02 by .72 
inch ; 1 by .74 inch ; and .94 by .75 inch. 

During the mating and breeding season, the pugnacity 
and courage of the King-bird are proverbial: if any bird 
approach the neighborhood of his nest, he immediately 
attacks it; and, whether crow (his particular dislike), 
hawk, or eagle, the intruder is obliged to flee, so fierce an 
onslaught does this little warrior make on him. As soon 
as the cry of a crow is heard, he is all activity : he flies 
from the tree where he is perching to reconnoitre, uttering 
his shrill twitter, and vibrating his wings in short, quick, 
nervous strokes ; as soon as the crow appears, the King- 
bird pursues it, his flight now being very swift and powerful. 
As soon as he nears his foe, he flies above him, and, dart- 
ing down on his back and head, attacks him with such 
vigor that the crow dives and dodges to avoid him. He 
repeats his attack, and follows his enemy, sometimes to the 
distance of a mile and more : then, returning to his mate, 
he perches on the tree by her nest, and twitters a volley of 
courageous songs. 

The food of the King-bird consists principally of insects, 
which he captures usually while on the wing. It seems a 
provision of nature, that all the Flycatchers shall only take 
those insects that have taken flight from the foliage of trees 
and shrubs, at the same time making the warblers and 
other birds capture those which remain concealed in such 
places. The King-bird, in seizing a flying insect, flies in a 
sort of half-flitting hover, and seizes it with a sharp snap 
of the bill. Sometimes he descends from his perch, and 
captures a grasshopper that has just taken a short flight, 
and occasionally seizes one that is crawling up some tall 
stalk of grass. Those farmers who keep bees dislike 
this bird because of his bad habit of eating as many 
of those insects as show themselves in the neighborhood 
of his nest; but they should remember that the general 




, Tyranuus Carolincmis. Baird. 



THE GREAT-CRESTED FLYCATCHER. 

interests of agriculture are greater than those of a hive of 
bees. 

About the middle of September, this bird with his family 
and neighbors gather into a scattered flock, and depart for 
the south, spending the winter in Central America and 
Southern Mexico. 

MYIARCHUS, CABANIS. 

Myiarchus, CABANIS, Fauna Peruana (1844-46) 152. Burmeister, Thiere Bra- 
siliens, II. Vogel (1856) 469. 

Tarsus equal to, or not longer than, the middle toe, which is decidedly longer 
than the hinder one ; bill wider at base than half the culmen ; tail broad, long, even, 
or slightly rounded, about equal to the wings, which scarcely reach the middle of 
the tail, the first primary shorter than the sixth; head with elongated lanceolate 
distinct feathers; above brownish-olive; throat ash; belly yellow; tail and wing 
feathers varied with rufous. 

MYIARCHUS CRINITUS. Cabanis. 
The Great-crested Flycatcher. 

Muscicapa crinita, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 325. Wilson, Am. Orn., II. 
(1810) 75. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 176; V. 423. 
Tyrannus crinitus. Nutt. Man., I. (2d ed., 1840) 302. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Head with a depressed crest ; third quill longest, fourth and second successively 
but little shorter, first a little longer than seventh, much shorter than sixth; tail 
decidedly rounded or even graduated, the lateral feather about twenty-five one- 
hundredths of an inch shorter ; upper parts dull greenish-olive, with the feathers of 
the crown, and to some extent of the back, showing their brown centres; upper tail 
coverts turning to pale rusty-brown; small feathers at the base of the bill, ceres, 
sides of the head as high as the upper eyelid, sides of the neck, throat, and forepart, 
of the breast, bluish-ashy ; the rest of the lower parts, including axillaries and lower 
wing coverts, bright sulphur-yellow; a pale ring round the eye; sides of the breast 
and body tinged with olivaceous; the wings brown, the first and second rows of 
coverts, with the secondary and tertial quills, margined externally with dull-white, 
or on the latter slightly tinged with olivaceous-yellow; primaries margined exter- 
nally for more than half their length from the base with ferruginous, great portion 
of the inner webs of all the quills very pale-ferruginous; the two middle tail 
feathers light brown, shafts paler, the rest have the outer web and a narrow line on 
the inner sides of the shaft brown, pale olivaceous on the outer edge, the remainder 
ferruginous to the very tip; outer web of exterior feather dull brownish-yellow; feet 
black; bill dark-brown above and at the tip below, paler towards the base. 

The female appears to have no brown on the inner web of the quills along the 
shaft, or else it is confined chiefly to the outer feathers. 

Length, eight and seventy-five one-hundredths inches ; wing, four and twenty- 



132 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

five one-hundredths; tail, four and ten one-hundredths ; tarsus, eighty-five one- 
hundredths. 

Hab. Eastern North America to the Missouri, and south to Eastern Texas (not 
yet observed further west). 

This species is a rare summer inhabitant of New England. 
It arrives from the South about the 10th of May in the lati- 
tude of Massachusetts, that is, so far as so irregular a 
visitor may be said to arrive, and spreads throughout 
these States. It is less rare in the southern districts than 
in the middle, and hardly penetrates as far north as the 
latitude of the middle of Maine. It has been ascertained 
to breed in all these States ; and two nests, with their con- 
tents, are before me. One of these was found in a hollow 
tree in Plymouth, Mass., on the 10th of June ; the other 
was found in Middleton, Mass., on the 4th of June. These 
nests are composed of straws, leaves, feathers, and the cast- 
off skins of snakes ; and it seems a distinguishing character- 
istic of the nests of this species to have the skins of one or 
more snakes woven into the other materials. The first 
of these nests had five eggs ; the other, three. These are of 
a beautiful creamy-buff, and covered with irregular scratches 
and lines of different shades of purple. Wilson says of these 
eggs, " The female lays four eggs of a dull cream-color, 
thickly scratched with purple lines of various tints, as if 
done with a pen." Dimensions of eggs vary from .95 by .78 
Cinches to 1 by .80 inch. 

As this species is quite rare in these States, I have had 
but very few chances for observing its habits. It appears 
to be equally courageous and quarrelsome with the King- 
bird, and has many of the peculiarities of that bird. Its 
food consists of insects, which it captures while on the wing, 
after the manner of the other species. When the young 
leave the nest, they feed on berries and caterpillars, and are 
fond of crickets and grasshoppers. By the middle of Sep- 
tember, the whole family leave for the South. 



THE PEWEE. 133 



SAYORNIS, BONAPARTE. 

Sayornis, BONAPARTE? Ateneo Italiano (1854). /&., Comptes Rendus (1854) 
Notes Orn. Delattre. 

Head with a blended depressed moderate crest; tarsus decidedly longer than 
middle toe, which is scarcely longer than the hind toe ; bill rather narrow, width at 
base about half the culmen; tail broad, long, slightly forked, equal to the wings, 
which are moderately pointed, and reach to the middle of the tail, first primary- 
shorter than the sixth. 



SAYORNIS FUSCUS. Baird. 
The Pewee; Phebe-bird. 

Muscicapafusca, Gmelin. Syst. Nat, I. (1788) 931. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 
122; V. (1839) 424. 76., Birds Amer., I. (1840) 223. 
Tyrannm fuscus, Nuttall. Man., I. (2d ed., 1840) 312. 
Muscicapa nitnciola, Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 78; pi. xiii. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Sides of breast and upper parts dull olive-brown, fading slightly toward the tail; 
top and sides of head dark-brown ; a few dull-white feathers on the eyelids ; lower 
parts dull yellowish-white, mixed with brown on the chin, and in some individuals 
across the breast; quills brown, the outer primary, secondaries, and tertials edged 
with dull-white; in some individuals the greater coverts faintly edged with dull- 
white ; tail brown, outer edge of lateral feather dull-white, outer edges of the rest 
like the back; tibiae brown; bill and feet black; bill slender, edges nearly straight; 
tail rather broad, and slightly forked, third quill longest, second and fourth nearly 
equal, the first shorter than sixth. 

Length, seven inches; wing, three and forty-two one-hundredths; tail, three and 
thirty one-hundredths. 

Hob. Eastern North America. 

In autumn, and occasionally in early spring, the colors are much clearer and 
brighter. Whole lower parts sometimes bright sulphur-yellow, above greenish-olive, 
top and sides of the head tinged with sooty ; in the young of the year, the colors are 
much duller; all the wing coverts broadly tipped with light-ferruginous, as also the 
extreme ends of the wings and tail feathers; the brown is prevalent on the whole 
throat and breast; the hind part of the back, rump, and tail, strongly ferruginous. 

The tail of this species is quite deeply forked, the external feather being from 
thirty-five one-hundredths to forty one-hundredths of an inch longer than the 
middle one. 

This well-known bird is a very common summer inhabi- 
tant of all New England. It arrives from the South often 
as early as the middle of March, sometimes before the last 
snowstorm of the season. As soon as the birds have 
paired, usually by the last of April, they commence build- 



134 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

ing. The nest is usually placed under a bridge, sometimes 
under an eave, or ledge of rock, sometimes in a barn 
or other building. It is constructed of fine roots, grasses, 
fine moss, and hairs, which are plastered together, and 
to the object the nest is built on, by pellets of mud: it is 
hollowed about an inch and a half, and lined with soft 
grasses, wool, and feathers. The eggs are usually five in 
number : their color is white, with a very delicate cream tint. 
There are usually in each litter one or two eggs with a few 
spots thinly scattered over the larger end : these spots are 
of a reddish-brown. The period of incubation is thirteen 
days, and two broods are often reared in the season in this 
latitude. The length of eggs varies from .72 to .78 inch ; 
breadth, from .54 to .56 inch. 

The familiar cheerful habits of this species, and the fact 
that it is one of the first birds to remind us of the return 
of spring, have made it a universal favorite ; and many 
residents in the country are so attached to it, that they 
protect it, and encourage its visits, and even provide 
quarters for the establishment of its nest. It seems to pre- 
fer the neighborhood of a pond or stream of water for its 
home, where, perching on the branch of an overhanging 
tree, or on the railing of a bridge, or darting about in dif- 
ferent directions, it busies itself through the day in catching 
the insects that swarm in myriads in such localities. When 
perching, it frequently flirts its tail, and erects the feathers 
of its head, uttering the notes phebe-phelee in a soft 
plaintive key. Sometimes, this note is more lively, resem- 
bling the word peweet, peweet, uttered in a quick, cheerful 
manner. The beautiful description of the habits of this 
bird, given by Audubon, is certainly one of the best efforts 
of that naturalist ; and I would advise all who are interested 
in the history of the bird to read it. 

After the young have left the nest, the parents remain 
together in the neighborhood of their home until their 
departure, about the middle of October. At this time, they 



THE OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER. 135 

are a little more shy than they were during the season 
of incubation, and their note is seldom heard ; and, when it 
is, it consists of a melancholy strain, quite different from 
that uttered in the spring and early summer. 

CONTOPUS, CABANIS. 

Contopus, CABANIS, Journal fur Ornithologie, III. (Nov., 1855) 479. (Type 
Muscicapa virens, L.) 

Tarsus very short, but stout, less than the middle toe, and scarcely longer than 
the hinder; bill quite broad at the base, wider than half the culmen; tail mod- 
erately forked, much shorter than the wings (rather more than three-fourths); wings 
very long and much pointed, reaching beyond the middle of the tail, the first 
primary about equal to the fourth ; all the primaries slender and rather acute, but 
not attenuated; head moderately crested ; color, olive above, pale-yellowish beneath, 
\vith a darker patch on the sides of the breast; under tail coverts streaked. 

CONTOPUS BOEEALIS. Baird. 
The Olive-sided Flycatcher. 

Tyrannus borealis, Sw. and Rich. F. Bor. Am., II. (1831) 141; plate. 
Muscicapa Cooperi, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 282. Aud. Orn. Biog , II. (1834) 
422; V. (1839) 422. 

Tyrannus Co.yeri, Bonaparte. List (1838). Nutt. Man., I. (2d ed., 1840) 298. 
Muscicapa inornata, Nuttall. Man. I. (1832) 282. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Wings long, much pointed, the second quill longest, the first longer than the 
third; tail deeply forked ; tarsi short; the upper parts ashy-brown, showing darker 
brown centres of the feathers, this is eminently the case on the top of the head; 
the sides of the head and neck, of the breast and body resembling the back, but 
with the edges of the feathers tinged with gray, leaving a darker central streak; the 
chin, throat, narrow line down the middle of the breast and body, abdomen, and 
lower tail coverts white, or sometimes with a faint tinge of yellow; the lower 
tail coverts somewhat streaked with brown in the centre; on each side of the rump, 
generally concealed by the wings, is an elongated bunch of white silk}'- feathers ; 
the wings and tail very dark brown, the former with the edges of the secondaries 
and tertials edged with dull-white; the lower wing coverts and axillaries grayish- 
brown; the tips of the primaries and tail feathers rather paler; feet and upper 
mandible black, lower mandible brown; the young of the year similar, but the 
color duller; feet light-brown. 

Length, seven and fifty one-hundredths inches ; wing, four and thirty-three one- 
hundredths; tail, three and thirty one-hundredths; tarsus, sixty one-hundredths. 

Hob. Rare on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States. Not 
observed in the interior, except to the north. Found in Greenland. (Reinhardt.) 

This bird is a not very common summer inhabitant of 
New England. It arrives from the South about the 20th 



136 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

of May, and is most frequently observed in low growths of 
oak and chestnut: it seems always busily employed in 
catching winged insects, of which its food almost entirely 
consists; these it seizes in the manner of the King-bird, 
which bird it resembles in both its habits and disposition. 
I have sometimes seen two birds of this species engaged in 
a fight, which, for fierceness, I have hardly seen surpassed. 
They would rush together in mid-air, snapping their bills, 
beating with their wings, and pecking each other, until they 
both descended to the trees beneath, actually exhausted with 
their exertions. 

Mr. Verrill says that it breeds quite common near the 
Umbagog Lakes, Me. ; but I have never been able to find its 
nest there or elsewhere, although I have looked for it with 
great care. 

It has been found breeding in Vermont ; and Dr. Thomp- 
son, in his work on the birds of that State, gives a descrip- 
tion of the nest and eggs. Three nests have been found in 
Massachusetts within two years ; two in West Roxbury, and 
one in Dorchester. These were all built in forked twigs 
of apple-trees, in old neglected orchards, facing to the 
southward, and were constructed of the same material that 
the King-bird uses in its nest. In fact, they were almost 
exactly like the King-bird's nest, but were a little smaller. 

Two of the nests had three eggs each, and the other had 
but two. They were all found in the first week in June, 
and the eggs were freshly laid : probably, if they had been 
unmolested, more eggs would have been deposited. Three 
of these eggs are in my cabinet. To compare them with 
the eggs of any other bird, I should say they seem like 
exceedingly large Wood Pe wee's : for they are almost exactly 
like them in shape, color, and markings ; being of a creamy- 
white, with large blotches and spatters of lilac, lavender, 
and brownish-red. Their dimensions are .88 by .68 ; .88 
by .66 ; .86 by .68 inch. 

Mr. Nuttall, who found a nest in Cambridge, Mass., 



THE WOOD PEWEE. 137 

describes it as follows : "It was built in the horizontal 
branch of a tall red cedar, forty or fifty feet from the 
ground. It was formed much in the manner of the King- 
bird's, externally made of interlaced dead twigs of the 
cedar ; internally, of the wire stolons of the common Lichen 
or Usnea. It contained three young, and had had probably 
four eggs. The eggs had been hatched about the 20th of 
June, so that the pair had arrived in this vicinity about the 
close of May." He also describes the bird's note as 
follows : " The female had a whistling, oft-repeated, whin- 
ing call of 'pit 'pit, then varied to 'pu 'pip, and 'pip 'pu, also 
at times 'pip 'pip 'pu, 'pip 'pip 'pip, 'pii 'pu 'pip, or 'tu 'tu, 
'tu, and 'tu, 'tu. The male, besides this note, had, at long 
intervals, a call of seh' phebee or 'h' pheb^d, almost exactly 
in the tone of the circular tin whistle or bird-call." 

By the second week in September, none of these birds 
are to be seen ; and, probably before that time, they have 
all departed on their migrations. 

CONTOPUS VIRENS. Cabanis. 

The Wood Pewee. 

Muscicapa virens, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 327. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 
285. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 93; V. (1839) 425. 
Muscicapa rapax, Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 81. 
Tyrannus virens, Nuttall. Man., I. (2d ed., 1840) 316. 

DESCRIPTION. 

The second quill longest, the third a little shorter, the first shorter than the 
fourth, the latter nearly forty one-hundredths longer than the fifth ; the primaries 
more than an inch longer than the secondaries ; the upper parts, sides of the head, 
neck, and breast, dark olivaceous-brown, the latter rather paler, the head darker; a 
narrow white ring round the eye ; the lower parts pale-yellowish, deepest on the 
abdomen; across the breast tinged with ash; this pale ash sometimes occupies 
the whole of the breast, and even occasionally extends up to the chin; it is also 
sometimes glossed with olivaceous; the wings and tail dark-brown, generally deeper 
than in S. fuscus; two narrow bands across the wing, the outer edge of first 
primary and of the secondaries and tertials dull-white ; the edges of the tail feathers 
like the back, the outer one scarcely lighter; upper mandible black, the lower yel- 
low, but brown at the tip. 

Length, six and fifteen one-hundredths inches; wing, three and fifty one-hun- 
dredths; tail, three and five one-hundredths. 

Hob. Eastern North America to the borders of the high central plains, south to 
New Granada. 



138 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

This bird is a common summer inhabitant of New Eng- 
land, making its appearance from the South from about the 
10th to the 20th of May. It prefers the solitudes of 




the deep forests to the more open districts, and is a more 
retiring species than any of its cousins in these States. 
About the last of May, the birds, having chosen their mates, 
commence building. The nest is placed usually on the 
horizontal limb of a tree, generally at a height of about 
twenty feet from the ground : it is composed of pine leaves 
and cottony substances, and covered with lichens and 
mosses, which are fixed on after the manner of the Hum- 
ming-bird. I think Nuttall's description of the nest the 
best that I have seen : it is as follows : 

" The nest is extremely neat and curious, almost universally 
saddled upon an old moss-grown and decayed limb in a horizontal 
position, and is so remarkably shallow, and incorporated upon the 
branch, as to be easily overlooked. The body of the fabric con- 
sists of wiry grass and root fibres, often blended with small branch- 
ing lichens, held together with cobwebs and caterpillars' silk, 
moistened with saliva ; externally, it is so coated over with bluish, 
crustaceous lichens as to be hardly discernible from the moss 
upon the tree. It is lined with finer root-fibres, or slender grass- 
stalks." 



THE WOOD PEWEE. 139 

The eggs are generally four in number. They are very 
beautiful, being of a delicate cream-color, with blotches 
and spots of lilac and brown around the larger end : there 
are two shades of lilac, one obscure, and the other 
decided, even a lavender. The eggs are generally oval in 
shape, and but little larger at one end than at the other. 
Length from .72 to .78 inch ; breadth from .54 to .56 inch. 
But one brood is reared in the season in New England. 
The period of incubation is fourteen days. 

The habits of this species are not generally so well known 
as those of the Phebe, which bird it resembles in many 
respects. Although it is usually found in the wildest and 
most thickly wooded localities, it sometimes frequents the 
orchards and open pastures ; and I have occasionally seen 
individuals on the trees on Boston Common, busily engaged 
in hunting insects, and apparently having families in the 
neighborhood. The note is different from that of the Phebe, 
being more plaintive and drawling, sounding like the syl- 
lables "pe-weeee" " pe-weeee" When the nest is ap- 
proached, both the parents fly to meet the intruder, 
hovering over his head, snapping their bills, and uttering 
short notes of complaint like chip-pee, pe-peu : they often 
alight on a twig near him, and flirt their tails and quiver 
their wings in a nervous, irritable manner. After the 
young have left the nest, the old birds separate ; and, though 
still frequenting the same localities they inhabited during 
the season of incubation, they are seldom seen together, 
each seeming to avoid the other. They are now generally 
silent, and, when approached, are quite shy. They leave 
the New-England States by the 10th of September, and 
probably winter in South America. 

EMPIDONAX, CABANIS. 

Empidonax, CABANIS, Journal fur Ornithologie, III. (Nov., 1855) 480 (type 
Tyrannula pusilla. 

Tyrannula of most authors. 



140 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

Tarsus lengthened, considerably longer than the middle toe, which is decidedly 
longer than the hind toe ; bill variable ; tail very slightly forked, even, or rounded, 
a little shorter only than the wings, which are considerably rounded, the first pri- 
mary much shorter than the fourth; head moderately crested; color olivaceous 
above, yellowish beneath ; throat generally gray. 



EMPIDONAX TEAILLII. Baird. 
The Traill's Flycatcher. 

Muscicapa traittii, Audubon. Orn. Biog., I. (1832) 236; V. (1839) 426. 
Tyrannus traillii, Nuttall. Man., I. (2d ed., 1840) 323. 

DESCBIPTION. 

Third quill longest, second scarcely shorter than fourth, first shorter than fifth, 
about thirty-five one-hundredths shorter than the longest ; primaries about seventy- 
five one-hundredths of an inch longer than secondaries ; tail even ; upper parts dark 
olive-green, lighter under the wings, and duller and more tinged with ash on nape 
and sides of the neck; centre of the crown feathers brown; a pale yellowish-white 
ring (in some specimens altogether white) round the eye; loral feathers mixed 
with white; chin and throat white; the breast and sides of throat light-ash tinged 
with olive, its intensity varying in individuals, the former sometimes faintly 
tinged with olive; sides of the breast much like the back; middle of the belly nearly 
white; sides of the belly, abdomen, and the lower tail coverts sulphur-yellow; the 
quills and tail feathers dark-brown, as dark (if not more so) as these parts in 
C. virens; two olivaceous yellow-white bands on the wing, formed by the tips of the 
first and second coverts, succeeded by a brown one, the edge of the first primary 
and of secondaries and tertials a little lighter shade of the same ; the outer edge of 
the tail feathers like the back, that of the lateral one rather lighter; bill above dark- 
brown, dull-brownish beneath. 

Length, nearly six inches; wing, two and ninety one-hundredths; tail, two and 
sixty one-hundredths. 

Hob. Eastern United States, and south to Mexico. 

This bird is occasionally found as a spring and autumn 
visitor in New England, arriving about the 15th or 20th of 
May. In its habits, it resembles the Least Flycatcher (E. 
minimus), as it does also in its plumage: in fact, these. two 
birds and the Green-crested Flycatcher have been so much 
mistaken for each other by different naturalists, the confu- 
sion in whose descriptions is so great, that it requires a very 
careful examination to identify either of these birds per- 
fectly and accurately. I have had no opportunities for 
observing the habits of the bird now before us, and can add 
nothing to its history. Thompson, in his " Vermont Birds," 



THE LEAST FLYCATCHER. 

gives it as breeding in that State ; and I have no doubt it 
occasionally passes the summer in each of the New-England 
States. I had a nest and four eggs brought me in June, 
1864, found in Eastern Massachusetts, that were almost 
exactly like those of E. minimus; but the bird brought 
with the nest was unquestionably of this species : whether 
or not the two belonged together I cannot say, but think 
that they probably did. The person who collected them 
informed me that the nest was found in an apple-tree in an 
old orchard : it was built in a small fork about twenty feet 
from the ground. The bird attacked the person who found 
it, courageously flying in his face, and snapping its bill 
with anger, and uttering a querulous twitter like that of the 
Phebe. The eggs were nearly hatched ; and, as they were 
found on the 20th of June, they must have been laid by 
the 10th of that month. 

Two eggs in my cabinet, from near Quebec, Lower Can- 
ada, collected by William Couper, Esq., who informs me 
this species is occasionally met with there, are of a creamy- 
white color, like that of the eggs of E. minimus ; each egg 
having a very few pale reddish-brown dots. The form of 
the eggs is more elongated than that of the eggs of minimus, 
the dimensions being .77 by .53 inch, and .76 by .55 inch. 

EMPIDONAX MINIMUS. Baird. 
The Least Flycatcher; Chebec. 

Tyrannula minima, William M. and S. F. Baird. Pr. A. N. Sc. I. (July, 1843) 
284. /&., Sillim. Am. Jour. Sc. (July, 1844). And., Birds Amer. VII. (1844) 343, 
pi. 491. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Second quill longest, third and fourth but little shorter, fifth a little less, first 
intermediate between fifth and sixth; tail even; above olive-brown, darker on the 
head, becoming paler on the rump and upper tail coverts; the middle of the back 
most strongly olivaceous; the nape (in some individuals) and sides of the head 
tinged with ash; a ring round the eye, and some of the loral feathers white, the chin 
and throat white; the sides of the throat and across the breast dull-ash, the color on 
the latter sometimes nearly obsolete; sides of the breast similar to the back, but of a 
lighter tint ; middle of the belly very pale yellowish-white, turning to pale sulphur- 
yellow on the sides ,of the belly, abdomen, and lower tail coverts; wings brown, 



142 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

two narrow white bands on wing, formed by the tips of the first and second cov- 
erts, succeeded by one of brown ; the edge of the first primary, and of the second- 
aries and tertials, white; tail rather lighter brown, edged externally like the back; 
feathers narrow, not acuminate, with the ends rather blunt. In autumn, the white 
parts are strongly tinged with yellow. 

Length, about five inches; wing, two and sixty-five one-hundredths ; tail, two 
and fifty one-hundredths. 

Hob. Eastern United States to Missouri plains. 

This species arrives from the South usually about the 
last week in April. The birds commence building about 
the 20th or 25th of May. The nest is placed usually in 
a small fork of a limb of an apple-tree, in the orchard, and 
often quite near the house : it is composed of soft, fine grass, 
cobwebs, twine, cotton, in fact, almost any thing that will 
help to make a smooth, compact fabric : the interior is lined 
with soft grass, bristles, fine roots, feathers, and wool. The 
eggs are usually four in number, sometimes three, some- 
times five : they are of a beautiful creamy-white color ; and 
their form is nearly pyriform, being abruptly tapered to the 
small end. Dimensions of a nest complement of four eggs, 
taken at random from a large number, collected in different 
parts of New England : .63 by .50 inch, .64 by .51 inch, 
.61 by .53 inch, .60 by .53 inch. This species often breeds 
twice in the season in New England. The period of incuba- 
tion is thirteen days. 

This bird, being very abundantly distributed as a summer 
resident throughout New England, is well known, and its 
habits are familiar to all. It prefers the neighborhood of 
civilization, and is most frequently found in orchards and 
gardens. A pair once built in an apple-tree, immediately 
beneath my chamber window, so near that I could touch 
the nest with a rod four feet in length. The nest was com- 
menced on the 5th of June, and was finished by the 10th ; 
both birds working in its construction. The female laid 
four eggs in three days' time, and commenced sitting when 
the fourth was laid. Both birds incubated, and the male 
remained on the nest nearly as long as his mate. When he 



THE SMALL GREEN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER. 143 

was off the nest, he was very pugnacious ; attacking every 
bird that came near, and even forcing a robin to retreat, so 
fierce was the onslaught he made on it. He always, in 
attacking other birds, uttered his shrill cry, chebec, chebec, 
and snapped his bill loudly and fiercely. When perching, 
lie often flirted his tail in the manner of the Phebe ; and, 
every few seconds, he emitted his note, chebec, chebec, 
chebec; varied sometimes into chebec-trree-treo, chebe c-treee- 
clieu. 

The young were all hatched by the fourteenth day, and 
left the nest within a month from their birth. They were fed 
abundantly, while on the nest, by the parents, with insects, 
which they caught and crushed between their bills: they 
were fed a few days after they left the nest, and then turned 
adrift ; the parents having begun another nest on the same 
tree. 

The Least Flycatcher has often been called the Small 
Green-crested or Acadican Flycatcher. I would caution 
those who are interested in the history of these birds to 
observe great care, and be certain of their identity before 
naming them. 

By the second week in September, it leaves on its south- 
ern migration. 

EMPIDONAX ACADICUS. Baird. 
The Small Green-crested Flycatcher. 

f Muscicapa acadica, Gmelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 947. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. 
(1834) 256; V. (1839) 429. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 208. 
Muscicapa querula, Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 77. 
Tyrannus acadica, Nuttall. Man. I. (2d ed., 1840) 320. 

DESCRIPTION. 

The second and third quills are longest, and about equal; the fourth a little 
shorter, the first about equal to the fifth, and about thirty-five one-hundredths less 
than the longest; tail even; the upper parts, with sides of the head and neck, olive- 
green, the crown very little if any darker; a yellowish-white ring round the eye; 
the sides of the body under the wings like the back, but fainter olive, a tinge of the 
same across the breast; the chin, throat, and middle of the belly white; the abdo- 
men, lower tail and wing coverts, and sides of the body not covered by the wings, 
pale greenish-yellow ; edges of the first primary, secondaries, and tertials margined 



144 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

with dull yellowish- white, most broadly on the latter; two transverse bands of pale- 
yellowish across the wings, formed by the tips of the secondary and primary covertsf 
succeeded by a brown one; tail light-brown, margined externally like the back; 
upper mandible light-brown above, pale-yellow beneath. In autumn, the lower 
parts are more yellow. 

Length, five and sixty-five one-hundredths inches ; wing, three ; tail, two and 
seventy-five one-hundredths inches. 

Hob. Eastern United States to the Mississippi. 

This bird is a rare summer inhabitant of any of the New- 
England States, seldom coming so far north. I have had 
no opportunities of observing its habits, and can give no 
description from my own observation. Mr. Allen says that 
it breeds in swamps and low moist thickets, which are its 
exclusive haunts. 

Giraud, in his " Birds of Long Island," says, " In habits, 
it is solitary ; generally seen on the lower branches of the 
largest trees ; utters a quick, sharp note ; arrives among us 
in the latter part of May, and retires southward early in 
September." 

I have no nest, but understand that it resembles that of 
the Least Flycatcher. Five eggs before me, furnished by 
J. P. Norris, Esq., of Philadelphia, are of a pale creamy- 
white color, with a few thin spots of reddish-brown scattered 
over their larger end. They vary in size from .78 inch in 
length by about .56 inch in breadth, to .72 inch in length 
by .55 inch in breadth. The form is like that of E. traillii ; 
but ( the spots are larger and more numerous. 



OSCINES. SINGING BIRDS. 145 



SUB-ORDER OSCINES. SINGING BIRDS. 

Toes, three anterior, one behind, all at the same level, and none versatile, the 
outer anterior never entirely free to the base ; tail feathers twelve; primaries, either 
nine only, or else the first is spurious or much shorter than the second, making the 
tenth; tail feathers usually twelve; tarsi feathered to the knee, the plates on the 
anterior face either fused into one or with distinct divisions, the posterior portion of 
the sides covered by one continuous plate on either side, meeting in a sharp edge 
behind, or with only a few divisions inferiorly. Occasionally, the hinder side has 
transverse plates, corresponding in number to the anterior; but there are then usually 
none on the sides. Larynx provided with a peculiar muscular apparatus for singing, 
composed of five pairs of muscles. 



FAMILY TURDID^E. THE THRUSHES. 

The following characteristics of this family and its genera, represented in New 
England, are given by Professor Spencer F. Baird, in his recent " Review of the 
Birds of Noith America," published in the Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collec- 
tions : 

"Primaries ten, the first of which is either spurious or much shorter than the 
second. The bill is elongated and subulate, moderately slender, and usually notched 
at tip; nostrils uncovered; the culmen moderately curved from the base, and the 
mouth well provided with bristles, except in a few cases. Usually, the scutellae 
covering the front and sides of the. tarsus are fused into one continuous plate, or else 
scarcely appreciable, except on the inner edge only ; in the Mocking Thrushes, they 
are, however, distinctly marked. The lateral toes are nearly equal, the outer rather 
the longer." These general characteristics apply also to the Saxicolidce, more fully 
spoken of in a succeeding page. 

The peculiar characteristics of the family Turdidce are: "Wings moderate, more 
rounded, not reaching beyond middle of the often rounded tail, and not more than 
one and a third the latter, usually more nearly equal. Spurious primary sometimes 
half the length of second quill, the second quill shorter than the fourth. In the 
closed wing, the outer secondary reaches three-fourths or more the length of longest 
primary." 

Professor Baird divides this family into the* sub-families Turdince, which have 
"tarsi covered anteriorly with a continuous plate;" and the Mimince, whose tarsi 
are scutellate anteriorly ; scutellae seven. 



Sub-Family TURDINJE. 

Nostrils oval; bristles along the base of the bill from gape to nostrils, those of 
rictus not reaching beyond nostrils ; the loral feathers with bristly points ; second 
quill longer than sixth; outer lateral toes longer; wings long. 

10 



146 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



TURDUS, LINNAEUS. 

Turdus, LINN^US, Syst. Nat. (1735). (Type T. viscivorus, fide G. R. Gray.) 
Bill rather stout; commissure straight to near the tip, which is quite abruptly 
decurved, and usually distinctly notched; culmen gently convex from base; bill 
shorter than the head, both outlines curved; tarsi longer than the middle toe; lateral 
toes nearly equal, outer longer; wings much longer than the tail, pointed; the first 
quill spurious and very small, not one-fourth the length of longest ; tail short, nearly 
even, or slightly emarginate. 



TURDUS MUSTELINUS. Gmelin. 
The Song Thrush ; Wood Thrush. 

Turdus mustelinus, Gmelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 817. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 343. 
Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1832) 372; V. (1839) 446. 

Turdus melodus, Wilson. Am. Orn., I. (1808) 35, pi ii. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Above, clear cinnamon-brown, on the top of the head becoming more rufous, on 
the rump and tail olivaceous ; the under parts are clear-white, sometimes tinged with 
buff on the breast or anteriorly, and thickly marked beneath, except on the chin 
and throat, and about the vent and tail coverts, with sub-triangular, sharply defined 
spots of blackish; the sides of the head are dark -brown, streaked with white, and 
there is also a maxillary series of streaks on each side of the throat, the central por- 
tion of which sometimes has indications of small spots. 

Length, eight and ten-hundredths inches : wing, four and twenty-five one-hun- 
dredths; tail, three and five one-hundredths ; tarsus, one and twenty-six one- 
hundredths. 

Hob. Eastern United States to Missouri River, south to Guatemala. 



beautiful songster is a pretty common summer 
JL inhabitant of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode 
Island. In the other New-England States, it is rarely seen ; 
and, when we hear of a Song Thrush occurring there, refer- 
ence is probably made either to the Hermit or Olive-backed 
Thrush. It arrives from the South about the 10th of May, 
both sexes making their appearance at about the same time. 
They soon commence pairing, and frequent the moist thick- 
ets and thickly wooded glens, where their amours are con- 
ducted in privacy and peace. 

At this season, the beautiful song of the male is heard at 
early dawn and early twilight : it seldom sings in the middle 
of the day, unless the weather is dark and cloudy. This 
song is a beautiful, melancholy strain, similar to the tone 



THE SONG THRUSH. 147 

produced on a flute : the notes are difficult of description. 
Mr. Nuttall, who was particularly happy in his descriptions 
of bird-songs, speaks of this as follows : 

" The prelude to this song resembles almost the double-tonguing 
of the flute, blended with a tinkling, shrill, and solemn warble, 
which re-echoes from his solitary retreat like the dirge of some sad 
recluse, who shuns the busy haunts of life. The whole air consists 
usually of four parts, or bars, which succeed, in deliberate time, 
and finally blend together in impressive and soothing harmony, 
becoming more mellow arid sweet at every repetition. Rival per- 
formers seem to challenge each other from various parts of the 
wood, vying for the favor of their mates with sympathetic respon- 
ses and softer tones. And some, waging a jealous strife, terminate 
the warm dispute by an appeal to combat and violence. Like the 
Robin and the Thrasher, in dark and gloomy weather, when other 
birds are sheltered and silent, the clear notes of the Wood Thrush 
are heard through the dropping woods, from dawn to dusk ; so that, 
the sadder the day, the sweeter and more constant is his song. His 
clear and interrupted whistle is likewise often nearly the only voice 
of melody heard by the traveller, to mid-day, in the heat of sum- 
mer, as he traverses the silent, dark, and wooded wilderness, remote 
from the haunts of men. It is nearly impossible by words to con- 
vey any idea of the peculiar warble of this vocal hermit; but, 
amongst his phrases, the sound of 'airoee, peculiarly liquid, and 
followed by a trill, repeated in two separate bars, is readily recog* 
nizable. At times, their notes bear a considerable resemblance to 
those of Wilson's Thrush : such as eh rhehu 'vrhehu, then varied 
to 'eh villia villia, 'eh villia vrhehu, then 'eh vein villu, high and 
shrill." 

About the 20th of May, the Song Thrush builds its nest. 
This is placed usually in a low alder or birch shrub, in a 
retired locality, almost always in the deep woods. It is 
composed outwardly of grass, leaves, and weeds, bent and 
twined together. In this is built a nest composed of mud 
and grass, and the whole is lined with fibrous roots and soft 
grass and moss. It is placed on a low branch of a tree, or 
in the branches of a shrub. I give Wilson's description of 



148 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

the nest, not because it is essentially different from my own, 
but to confirm my own observation, and to help clear up 
the confusion that exists in many districts concerning the 
identity of the thrushes. It is as follows : 

" The favorite haunts of the Wood Thrush are low, thick-shaded 
hollows, through which a small brook or rill meanders, overhung 
with cedar-bushes that are mantled with wild vines. Near such a 
scene, he generally builds his nest in a laurel or alder bush. Out- 
wardly, it is composed of withered beech-leaves of the preceding 
year, laid at bottom in considerable quantities, no doubt to prevent 
damp and moisture from ascending through, being generally built 
in low, wet situations : above these are layers of knotty stalks or 
withered grass, mixed with mud, and smoothly plastered, above 
which is laid a slight lining of fine black fibrous roots of plants." 

The eggs are usually four in number ; they are of a uni- 
form light-blue color, without spots, and with a very slight 
tint of green ; their form is rather long and pointed. The 
following are the dimensions of a nest complement of four 
eggs, found in Milton, Mass. : 1.12 by .68 inch, 1.12 by .69 
inch, 1.07 by TO inch, 1 by .73 inch. But one brood is 
usually reared in the season in New England. 

* TUEDUS PALL ASH. Cabanis. 

The Hermit Thrush. 

Turdus pallasii, Cabanis. Wieggman's Archiv. (1847), I. 205. 

Turdtu solitarius, Wilson. Am. Orn., V. (1812) 95 (not of Linnaeus. The figure 
quoted pi. xliii. fig. 2, belongs to T. Swainsonii). Aud. Syn. (1839). 7., Birds 
Am., III. (1841) 29, pi. 146. 

Turdus minor, Bonaparte. Obs. Wilson (1825), No. 72. 75., Syn. (1828), 75. 
Nutt. Man., I. (1830) 346. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1831) 303; V. 445, pi. 58. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Fourth quill longest; third and fourth a little shorter; second about equal to the 
sixth (about a thirtieth of an inch shorter than the longest); tail slightly emargi- 
nate; above light olive-brown, with a scarcely perceptible shade of reddish, passing, 
however, into decided rufous on the rump, upper tail coverts, and tail, and to a less 
degree on the outer surface of the wings; beneath white, with a scarcely appreciable 
shade of pale-buff across the fore part of the breast, and sometimes on the throat; 
the sides of the throat and the fore part of the breast with rather sharply defined 



THE HERMIT THRUSH. 149 

eubtriangul-ir spots of dark olive-brown ; the sides of the breast with paler and less 
distinct spots of the same ; sides of the body under the wings of a paler shade than 
the back; a whitish ring round the eye; ear coverts very obscurely streaked with 
paler. 

Length, seven and fifty one-hundredths inches ; wing, three and eighty-four one- 
hundredths; tail, three and twenty-five one-hundredths; tarsus, one and sixteen 
one-hundredths. 

Hub. Eastern North America to the Mississippi River. 

This bird, although not so well known in Massachusetts, 
Connecticut, and Rhode Island, is quite familiar to the 
people of the other States in New England. It arrives from 
the South about the middle of April, and passes leisurely 
to the North, where it arrives about the middle of May. 
It very seldom breeds in any districts south of the latitude 
of the middle of Maine ; and from thence north it is quite 
abundant, where it is known by the name of the Swamp 
Robin. I have been so fortunate as to find several nests 
of this species ; and they were all built in very low scrubby 
trees or bushes, quite near the ground. They were com- 
posed of twigs, grasses, mosses, and leaves ; they were 
deeply hollowed, and no mud was used in their composition, 
as with several other species ; they were lined with soft 
grasses, mosses, and fine fibrous roots. The eggs were, in 
one nest, three in number ; and, in the others, four. This was 
about the 10th of June. The localities were in the neigh- 
borhood of Lake Umbagog and in the valley of the Magal- 
loway River, in Maine. The eggs of this species are of a 
somewhat elongated oval form, a*nd their color is a light- 
blue with a very faint tint of green : " about one in every 
four has very thinly scattered spots of reddish-brown, and 
occasionally one is met with having an abundance of 
coarser spots of two shades of brown." Dimensions 
of specimens from various localities vary from .92 by .65 
to .88 by .60 inch. 

Mr. C. L. Paine, of Randolph, Vt., writes me that he has 
found numbers of the nests of this bird, and that they were 
invariably built on the ground. He also says that the eggs 



150 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

are always blue in color, and he has never met with one 
that was spotted in any manner. I have quite a number 
of specimens in my collection, and not one is spotted. I 
have also seen many others, and they were not marked ; and 
I think that the above quotation must be received with cau- 
tion. A nest sent me from Upton, Me., is composed almost 
entirely of mosses. It contains five eggs, all unspotted. 

Mr. Paine writes me that the Olive-backed Thrush breeds 
in his neighborhood, which, with the other, are the only 
thrushes breeding there. In answer to his remark that 
the Hermit Thrush always builds on the ground, I can only 
say that I found the nests as above. I have noticed that 
the Tawny or Wilson's Thrush builds on the ground in 
some localities and in bushes in others, and conclude that 
the Hermit is also variable in its choice of a nesting-place. 

The habits, song, and general characteristics of this bird 
are almost exactly similar to those of the Song Thrush. 
Its song resembles it so much, that I always supposed the 
bird was the same, until I examined some of them that I 
heard singing, when I found my mistake. About the 
middle of October, the last individuals that are seen in 
Massachusetts leave for the South. At this time, as in the 
spring, they are silent and shy : their note is a faint chirp, 
uttered in a listless, melancholy tone ; and their whole 
appearance is in keeping with the great change which has 
come over the face of Nature. In fact, the Hermit Thrush 
is always associated in my mind with the falling of leaves, 
the rattling of acorns, and the whirring of the Ruffed 
Grouse through the birches and alders of the swampy 
glens. 

TURDUS FUSCESCENS. Stephens. 
The Tawny Thrush; Wilson's Thrush. 

Turdus fuscescens, Stephens. Shaw's Zool. Birds, X. (1817) 182. Gray, Genera 
(1849). 

Turdm mwtdinus, Wilson. Am. Orn., V. (1812) 98 (not of Gm.). 

Turdus Wilsonii, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 349. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 362; 
V. 446. /&., Birds Am., III. (1841) 27, pi. 145. 



THE TAWNY THRUSH. 



DESCRIPTION. 

Third quill longest, fourth a little shorter, second nearly a quarter of an inch 
longer than the fifth; above, and on sides of head and neck, nearly uniform light 
reddish-brown, with a faint tendency to orange on the crown and tail; beneath 
white, the fore part of the breast and throat (paler on the chin) tinged with pale 
brownish-yellow, in decided contrast to the white of the belly; the sides of the 
throat and the fore part of the breast, as colored, are marked with small triangular 
spots of light-brownish, nearly like the back, but not well defined; there are a few 
obsolete blotches on the sides of the breast (in the white) of pale-olivaceous, the 
sides of the body tinged with the same; tibiae white; the lower mandible is brown- 
ish only at the tip; the lores are ash-colored. 

Length, seven and fifty one-hundredths inches ; wing, four and twenty-five one- 
hundredths; tail, three and twenty one-hundredths inches ; tarsus, one and twenty 
one-hundredths. 

Hab. Eastern North America to the Missouri, north to fur countries. 

This species is well distinguished among the American thrushes by the indis- 
tinctness of the spots beneath, and their being confined mainly to the fore part of 
the breast. In some specimens, there is a faint tendency to a more vivid color on 
the rump ; but this is usually like the back, which is very nearly the color of the 
rump in T. pallasii. 

This quite common species is a summer inhabitant of 
southern New England. It is quite abundant until we reach 
the southern portions of Maine, New Hampshire, and Ver- 
mont, when it begins to grow less common until we reach the 
latitude of the middle of these States, where it begins to be 
replaced by the Hermit Thrush, and soon ceases to occur to 
the north of this latitude. It makes its appearance from 
the South about the first week in May, often earlier, and 
commences building about the 20th of May. The nest is 
placed occasionally in a low shrub, or tangled clump of 
briers, usually on the ground. The situation is retired, 
often in the depths of the woods. The nest is constructed 
of grass, leaves, and weeds ; in some cases, the outer bark 
of the grape-vine is the principal material used : it is quite 
thoroughly made, and is deeply hollowed, and lined with 
fine roots and horsehair. The eggs are usually four in 
number, sometimes five ; their color is bluish-green, deeper 
than that of the eggs of the Hermit Thrush, but not so dark 
as in those of the Cat Bird ; their form is generally an oval, 
sometimes lengthened and sharpened ; their average size is 



152 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

about .90 by .66 inch. As in many other eggs, the longest 
specimens are not always the broadest. The following are 
the dimensions of four eggs, taken at random from a large 
number of this species : .92 by .64 inch, .88 by .64 inch, 
.86 by .66 inch, .87 by .67 inch. 

From the first arrival of this bird, during its whole stay 
here, it seems to prefer the neighborhood of a swampy wood 
for its home. There, during the mating and incubating 
seasons, the notes of the male may be heard at the earliest 
hours of the morning and evening ; and, in cloudy weather, 
through the day, and sometimes in the night. The song is 
a peculiar one, with a singular metallic ring, exceedingly 
difficult to describe : it begins quite loud, the syllables 
chefiry, chetiry, dreary, cheury, decreasing in tone to a quito 
faint lisp ; then, after a short pause, the notes, cheou 'twit, 
tritter, 'tritter, are uttered ; and the whole is finished usually 
with the ejaculation, chickwheu. This song is often re- 
peated ; and sometimes two or three males, perching on a 
low shrub or tree, emulate each other in a musical contest 
that is very pleasing to hear. This thrush, as are all the 
others, is eminently insectivorous ; and through the whole 
day he may be heard busily searching among the fallen 
leaves for his favorite food. 

About the 10th of September, it leaves for the South : at 
this time, like most of the others, it is silent and retiring, 
and is found only in localities that are thickly wooded with 
a growth of small birches and oaks. 

TURDUS SWAINSONII. Cabanis. 
The Olive-backed Thrush; Swainson's Thrush. 

Turdus SwainsoniL Cab. in Tschudi F. Peruana (1844-46) 188. 
Turdus solitarius, Wilson. Am. Orn., V. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Third quill longest, second and fourth but little shorter, and much longer than 
the fifth (by thirty-five one-hundredth s of an inch); upper parts uniform olivaceous, 
with a decided shade of green; the fore part of breast, the throat, and chin, pale 
brownish-yellow ; rest of lower parts white, the sides washed with brownish-olive ; 



THE OLIVE-BACKED THRUSH. 153 

sides of the throat and fore part of the breast with sub-rounded spots of well-defined 
brown, darker than the back; the rest of the breast (except medially) with rather 
less distinct spots that are more olivaceous ; tibiae yellowish-brown ; broad ring round 
the eye; loral region, and a general tinge on the side of the head, clear reddish-buff. 

Length, seven inches; wing, four and fifteen one-hundredths ; tail, three and 
ten one-hundredths inches; tarsus, one and ten one-hundredths. 

Hob. Eastern North America to the Black Hills, south to Mexico and Peru, 
north to Greenland. Accidental in Europe and Siberia. 

This species is at once distinguished from the others by the perfectly uniform and 
pure dull-olivaceous shade of its upper parts, most strongly marked and appreciable 
on the rump and tail. The throat and breast are perhaps more reddish than in any 
of our species, and the tinge in the marking on the side of the head is very much 
more decided than in any other. The spots on the breast larger than in T. ustulatus, 
and rather more numerous than in pallasii. 

This species is the least common of all the New-England 
thrushes. It is rarely observed in its passage through tlu 
southern portions of these States, and only begins to choose 
a home for the summer on arriving at the northern districts. 
I have looked for it repeatedly, but have not been able to 
find it south of the latitude of Lake Umbagog, in the breed- 
ing season ; and even there it is not often met with. It 
arrives in the localities where it breeds about the first week 
in June. In common with the Hermit Thrush, it is called 
the " Swamp Robin," and can hardly be distinguished from 
that bird, either by its song, which is beautiful, or by its 
breeding habits or nests. The eggs are different, being of a 
deeper green color : they are always (so far as my experi- 
ence goes) thinly spotted with dots and blotches of reddish 
and brown. The following are the dimensions of four eggs 
that I found in a nest near Wilson's Mills, Me., on the 16th 
of June, 1864 : .93 by .64 inch, .93 by .63 inch, .92 by .60 
inch, .90 by .61 inch. 

The only difference in the habits of this species from those 
of the Hermit Thrush is, that, while the latter is most usually 
found in swampy localities, the other is most often seen in 
dry, scrubby woods, where it is almost always busily engaged 
in the pursuit of its favorite insect food. 

J. A. Allen, in his paper on the birds of Springfield, 
Mass., before referred to, is of the opinion that this species 



154 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

and the Turdus alicice are the same. In a conversation with 
Professor Baird, since the issue of Allen's paper, I was in- 
formed, that, in a large suite of specimens of both species, 
to which he had access, he coiild identify each by character- 
istics so fixed that any confusion was impossible : he was 
of the opinion that Mr. Allen had not seen the bird he calls 
alicice. I have therefore not given that species as a bird of 
New England, and think that it yet remains to be proved as 
such. 

Dr. Bryant, in describing the habits of the Olive-backed 
Thrush, says : 

" Its note differs entirely from that of T. pallasii, and the birds 
also differ very much in their habits ; the latter species being gen- 
erally seen on the ground, while the Olive-backed Thrush prefers 
to procure its food among the branches. The one seen at Big Mud 
Lake, Grand Manan, was perched on the top of a small dwarf-fir, 
and was hunting the passing insects with all the dexterity of a 
typical Flycatcher." 

TURDUS MIGRATORIUS. Linnceus. 
The Robin. 

Turdus migratorius, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 292. Wilson, Am. Orn , I. 
(1808) 35. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 190. 

Merula migratoria, Sw. and Rich. Fauna Bor. Amer., II. (1831) 176. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Third and fourth quills about equal, fifth a little shorter, second longer than 
sixth; tail slightly rounded; above olive-gray, top and sides of the head black; 
chin and throat white, streaked with black; eyelids, and a spot above the eye an- 
teriorly, white; under parts and inside of the wings chestnut-brown; the under tail 
coverts and anal region with tibiae white, showing the plumbeous inner portions of 
the feathers ; wings dark-brown, the feathers all edged more or less with pale-ash ; 
tail still darker, the extreme feathers tipped with white; bill yellow, dusky along the 
ridge and at the tip. 

Length, nine and seventy-five one-hundredths inches; wing, five and forty-three 
one-hundredths ; tail, four and seventy -five one-hundredths inches ; tarsus, one and 
twenty-five one-hundredths. 

Hob. Continent of North America to Mexico. 

It is very seldom that specimens exhibit the colors exactly as described. Nearly 
always in winter, and in most cases at other times, the rufous feathers are margined 
with whitish, sometimes quite obscuring the color. The black feathers of the head, 




THE ROBIN. 155 

too, have brownish edgings. The white spot above the eye sometimes extends for- 
wards towards the nostrils, but is usually quite restricted. The white patches on 
the two eyelids are separated from each other, anteriorly and posteriorly. 

Tliis very common and well-known bird is a summer in- 
habitant of all New England, and, in mild winters, remains 
in the southern districts of these States through the year. 
The great body of the 
birds, however, arrive 
from the South about 
the middle of March. 
They commence build- 
ing from the middle of 
April to the first week 
in May, according to lati- 
tude. The nest is built 
more often in the trees of 
the orchards and gardens, near houses, than in the deep 
woods. It is a large, elaborately built affair, constructed first 
of a thick layer of straws, weeds, roots, and mosses : on this 
is built the nest proper, which is made of straws and weeds, 
woven together in a circular form, and plastered together 
with mud ; this is lined with soft grasses and moss, the 
whole making a durable structure, often holding together 
through the entire year. The eggs are usually four in num- 
ber : their color is a beautiful greenish-blue, almost the same 
as that of the Wood Thrush's egg, which they resemble in 
shape, except they are a trifle broader. Dimensions of a 
nest-complement of four eggs : 1.16 by .82 inch, 1.16 by .82 
inch, 1.10 by .75 inch, 1.10 by .80 inch. Many cases occur, 
in the southern districts of New England, of two broods 
being reared in the season, and I have known of three 
broods being reared in Massachusetts ; but, in the northern 
districts, I think that the second brood is the exception, 
instead of the rule. 

Perhaps none of our birds are more unpopular with horti- 
culturists than this ; and I will here give the observations 



156 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

of different scientific men, and my own, to show that the 
prejudice against the bird is unjust and unfounded. Mr. 
Trouvelot, of Medford, Mass., who is engaged in rearing 
silkworms, for the production of silk, is troubled by the 
Robin to a degree surpassing most other birds. He has a 
tract of about seven or eight acres enclosed, and mostly 
covered with netting. He is obliged, in self-defence, to kill 
the birds which penetrate into the enclosure and destroy the 
worms. Through the season, probably ten robins, for one 
of all others, thus molest him ; and, of scores of these birds 
which he has opened and examined, none had any fruit or 
berries in their stomachs, nothing but insects. It is to 
be understood that this was not in a part of the summer 
when berries were unripe : on the contrary, it was all 
through the season. His land is surrounded with scrub- 
oaks and huckleberry-bushes. These latter were loaded 
with fruit, which was easier of access to the birds than the 
worms ; but none were found in them. He says they came 
from all quarters to destroy his silkworms, and gave him 
more trouble than all the other birds together. He said 
that, in his opinion, if the birds were all killed off, vegeta- 
tion would be entirely destroyed. To test the destructive- 
ness of these marauders, as he regarded them, he placed on 
a small scrub-oak near his door two thousand of his silk- 
worms. (These, let me say, resemble, when small, the 
young caterpillar of the apple-tree moth.) In a very few 
days they were all eaten by Cat-birds and Robins, birds 
closely allied, and of the same habits. This was in the 
berry season, when an abundance of this kind of food was 
easily accessible ; but they preferred his worms. Why ? 
Because the young of these, as well as those of most other 
birds, must be fed on animal food. Earthworms assist in 
the regimen ; but how often can birds like the Robin, Cat- 
bird, Thrush, &c., get these ? Any farmer knows, that, when 
the surface of the ground is dry, they go to the subsoil, out 
of the reach of birds ; and it is not necessary here to say 



THE ROBIN. 157 

what proportion of the time the ground is very dry through 
the summer. Caterpillars, grubs of various kinds, and 
insects, therefore constitute the chief food of these birds; 
and of these, caterpillars and grubs being the most abun- 
dant, and most easily caught, furnish, of course, the larger 
proportion. 

In fact, the Thrushes seem designed by nature to rid the 
surface of the soil of noxious insects not often pursued by 
most other birds. The warblers capture the insects that 
prey on the foliage of the trees ; the flycatchers seize these 
insects as they fly from the trees ; the swallows capture 
those which have escaped all these ; the woodpeckers destroy 
them when in the larva state in the wood ; the wrens, nut- 
hatches, titmice, and creepers eat the eggs and young that 
live on and beneath the bark ; but the thrushes subsist on 
those that destroy the vegetation on the surface of the earth. 
They destroy nearly all kinds of grubs, caterpillars, and 
worms that live upon the greensward and cultivated soil, 
and large quantities of crickets and grasshoppers before 
they have become perfect insects. The grubs of locusts, 
of harvest-flies, and of beetles, which are turned up by the 
plough or the hoe, and their pupaB when emerging from the 
soil ; apple-worms, when they leave the fruit and crawl about 
in quest of new shelter ; and those subterranean caterpillars, 
the cutworms, that come out of the earth to take their food, 
all these, and many others, are eagerly devoured by the 
Robin and other Thrushes. The cutworms emerge from 
the soil during the night to seek for food ; and the Robin, 
which is one of the earliest birds to go abroad in the morn- 
ing, is very diligent at the dawn of day in hunting for these 
vermin before they have gone back into their retreat. The 
number of these destructive grubs is immense. " Whole 
cornfields," says Dr. Harris, " are sometimes laid waste by 
them. Cabbage-plants, till they are grown to a considerable 
size, are very apt to be cut off and destroyed by them. Po- 
tato-vines, beans, beets, and various other culinary plants, 



158 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

suffer iii the same way." The services of the robins, in 
destroying these alone, would more than pay for all the fruit 
they devour. Indeed, during the breeding season, a robin is 
seldom seen without having in his mouth one of these cater- 
pillars, or some similar grub, which he designs for his young; 
and as the Robin often raises three broods of young during 
the season, his species must destroy more of this class of 
noxious insects than almost all other birds together. In 
my own gardening experiences, I have had my full share of 
cutworms ; and 1 have always noticed the Robin, Brown 
Thrush, and Cat-bird busy early in the morning, almost 
before other birds are out of their feather-beds, figuratively 
speaking, catching these vermin and eating them, or 
carrying them for food to their young. 

To show further the food of this bird, I present the follow- 
ing experiment. At a meeting of the Boston Society of 
Natural History, a communication was read from Professor 
Treadwell, of Cambridge, giving a detailed account of the 
feeding and growth of this bird during a period of thirty- 
two days, commencing with the 5th of June. The following 
is the substance of this report : 

When caught, the two were quite young, their tail feathers 
being less than an inch in length, and the weight of each 
about twenty-five pennyweights, less than half the weight 
of the full-grown birds : both were plump and vigorous, and 
had evidently been very recently turned out of the nest. 
He began feeding them with earthworms, giving three to 
each bird that night. The second day, he gave them ten 
worms each, which they ate ravenously. Thinking this 
beyond what their parents could naturally supply them with, 
he limited them to this allowance. On the third day, he gave 
them eight worms each in the forenoon ; but in the afternoon 
he found one becoming feeble, and it soon lost its strength, 
refused food, and died. On opening it, he found the pro- 
ventriculus, gizzard, and intestines entirely empty, and con- 
cluded therefore that it died from want of sufficient food ; 



THE ROBIN. 159 

the effect of hunger being increased perhaps by the cold, 
as the thermometer was about sixty degrees. 

The other ^bird, still vigorous, he put in a warmer place, 
and increased its food, giving it the third day fifteen worms, 
on the fourth day twenty-four, on the fifth twenty-five, on 
the sixtli thirty, and on the seventh thirty-one worms. They 
seemed insufficient, and the bird appeared to be losing 
plumpness and weight. He began to weigh both the bird 
and its food, and the results were given in a tabular form. 
On the fifteenth day, he tried a small quantity of raw meat, 
and, finding it readily eaten, increased it gradually, to the 
exclusion of worms. With it the bird ate a large quantity 
of earth and gravel, and drank freely after eating. By the 
table, it appears that though the food was increased to forty 
worms, weighing twenty pennyweights, on the eleventh day 
the weight of the bird rather fell off; and it was not until 
the fourteenth day, when he ate sixty-eight worms, or thirty- 
four pennyweights, that he began to increase. On this day, 
the weight of the bird was twenty-four pennyweights : he 
therefore ate forty-one per cent more than his own weight 
in twelve hours, weighing after it twenty-nine pennyweights, 
or fifteen per cent less than the food he had eaten in that 
time. The length of these worms, if laid end to end, would 
be about fourteen feet, or ten times the length of the intes- 
tines. 

To meet the objection, that the earthworm contains but a 
small quantity of nutritious matter, on the twenty-seventh 
day he was fed exclusively on clear beef, in quantity twenty- 
seven pennyweights. At night, the bird weighed fifty-two 
pennyweights, but little more than twice the amount of flesh 
consumed during the day, not taking into account the water 
and earth swallowed. This presents a wonderful contrast 
with the amount of food required by the cold-blooded ver- 
tebrates, fishes, and reptiles, many of which can live for 
months without food, and also with that required by 
mammalia. Man, at this rate, would eat about seventy 



160 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

pounds of flesh a day, and drink five or six gallons of 
water. 

The question immediately presents itself, How can this 
immense amount of food, required by the young birds, be 
supplied by the parents? Suppose a pair of old robins, with 
the usual number of four young ones. These would require, 
according to the consumption of this bird, two hundred and 
fifty worms, or their equivalent in insect or other food, daily. 
Suppose the parents to work ten hours, or six hundred min- 
utes, to procure this supply : this would be a worm to every 
two and two-fifths minutes ; or each parent must procure a 
worm or its equivalent in less than five minutes during ten 
hours, in addition to the food required for its own support. 

After the thirty-second day, the bird had attained its full 
size, and was intrusted to the care of another person during 
his absence of eighteen days. At the end of that period, 
the bird was strong and healthy, with no increase of weight, 
though its feathers had grown longer and smoother. Its 
food had been weighed daily, and averaged fifteen penny- 
weights of weight, two or three earthworms, and a small 
quantity of bread each day, the whole being equal to eigh- 
teen pennyweights of meat, or thirty-six pennyweights of 
earthworms ; and it continued up to the time of the pres- 
entation of the report. The bird having continued in con- 
finement, with certainly much less exercise than in the wild 
state, to eat one-third of its weight in clear flesh daily, the 
Professor concludes that the food it consiimed when young 
was not much more than must always be provided by the 
parents of wild birds. The food was never passed undi- 
gested ; the excretions were made up of gravel and dirt, 
and a small quantity of semi-solid urine. 

He thought that every admirer of trees may derive from 
these facts a lesson, showing the immense power of birds 
to destroy the insects by which our trees, especially our 
apple-trees, elms, and lindens, are every few years stripped 
of their foliage, and often many of them killed. 



THE ROBIN. 

" The food of the Robin," the Professor says, " while with us, 
consists principally of worms, various insects, their larv and eggs, 
and a few cherries. Of worms and cherries they can procure but 
few, and those during but a short period ; and they are obliged, 
therefore, to subsist principally upon the great destroyers of leaves, 
canker-worms, and some other kinds of caterpillars and bugs. If 
each robin, old and young, requires for its support an amount of 
these equal to the weight consumed by this bird, it is easy to see 
what a prodigious havoc a few hundred of these must make upon 
the insects of an orchard or nursery." 

Wilson Flagg, an acute and careful observer of the habits 
of our birds, ( gives some of his experiences of the Robin, 
as follows. He says, 

" Before I had investigated the habits of this bird, with particular 
reference to the service he renders to agriculture, I supposed he 
was only of secondary importance, compared with the Blackbird 
and others that possess the faculty of discovering and seizing the 
grubs that lie concealed beneath the surface of the ground. Though 
the Robin does not possess this faculty, he is pre-eminently service- 
able in other ways ; and the more I have studied his habits, the 
more I am convinced of his usefulness. Indeed, I am now fully 
persuaded that he is valuable beyond all other species of birds, and 
that his services are absolutely indispensable to the farmers of New 
England. Some persons believe that the Robin is exclusively a 
frugivorous bird, and that for fruit he will reject all other food that 
is within his reach. Others believe that his diet consists about 
equally of fruits and angle-worms, but that he is not a general con- 
sumer of insects. The truth is, the Robin is almost exclusively 
insectivorous, and uses fruit, as we do, only as a dessert, and not 
for his subsistence, except in the winter, when his insect food cannot 
be obtained. He is not omnivorous, like the Crow, the Jay, and the 
Blackbird. He rejects farinaceous food unless it is artificially pre- 
pared, derives almost his entire support from insects and grubs, and 
consumes, probably, a greater variety of species than any other 
bird. I am entirely at a loss to account for this very prevalent and 
mistaken notion respecting the frugivorous habits of the Robin. 

11 



162 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

"Early in May," he says, "my son caught and caged three 
young Robins, and I encouraged him in the act, that I might be 
enabled to study their habits of feeding. He commenced by feed- 
ing them with angle-worms and soaked bread, giving them the latter 
very sparingly. They soon died, evidently from an excess of the 
farinaceous part of their diet. He then took three others from 
different nests, and fed them more exclusively on worms, and some 
fruit. Two of these also soon died, and the remaining one ap- 
peared ill and drooping. I suggested that the bird probably needed 
insects as well as worms, which alone were not sufficient to supply 
all the wants of the system ; though he had access to cherries and 
soaked bread, of which he could eat whenever he wanted them. 
After this, he was supplied with all sorts of grubs and insects which 
my son was able to capture. The robin devoured these indiscrimi- 
nately and with great eagerness. He was never known to refuse one 
of any description. All kinds of beetles, moths, bugs, grubs, vine- 
worms, chrysalids, and caterpillars, which were presented to him, 
he devoured. After this improvement of his diet, the bird soon 
recovered his health ; and the experiment proved conclusively that 
this variety of insect food was necessary to the life of the bird, at 
least while he was young. 

" These insects were not put into his mouth : they were placed 
upon the floor of his cage, and he picked them up, killing them in 
a way that showed that he knew instinctively how to manage them. 

" He was particular in beating the vine-worm considerably before 
he swallowed it ; but he never refused one, or neglected to eat it. 
On one occasion, having swallowed a hard beetle, and finding it 
incommodious, he threw it out of his crop by a voluntary effort, 
beat it awhile with his bill against the floor, and then swallowed it 
again. This fact also proved his instinctive knowledge of the mode 
of proceeding in such emergencies. 

" It is a fact worthy of notice, that the Baltimore Oriole, or 
Golden Robin, which has the reputation of performing more ser- 
vice than the common Robin, may, when confined in a cage, be fed 
almost entirely on farinaceous food, without injury to his health. 
This fact is good evidence that the common Robin is more entirely 
insectivorous than the other. The contrary is generally believed. 
The fondness of the Robin and others for fruit is not peculiar to his 



THE BROWN THRUSH. 163 

species : it is equally remarkable in almost all other insectivorous 



birds.' 



I have given these accounts, as I remarked before, for the 
purpose of removing a prejudice that is too well established 
against this bird. Instances like the above might be pre- 
sented to almost any extent ; but my limits will not permit 
a further notice of this species. 



Sub-Family MIMING. Mocking Birds. 

Tail long, vaulted at the base, the feathers more or less graduated; size large; 
general appearance thrush-like; rictus with distinct bristles; frontal feathers normal, 
directed backwards ; anterior half of outer side of tarsi distinctly scutellate. 

i HARPORHYNCHUS, CABANIS. 

Harporhynchus, CABANIS, Wiegmann's Archiv. (1848), I. 98. (Type Harpes 
redivivus.) 

Bill from front as long as, or longer than the head, nearly straight to near the tip, 
or bow-shaped, without any notch ; tarsus as long as, or longer than the middle toe, 
conspicuously scutellate ; outer lateral toe a little the longer, not reaching the base of 
the middle claw ; hind toe longer than lateral, its claw equal to its remaining portion ; 
wings short, rounded, the fourth or fifth longest; the exposed portion of the first about 
half that of longest; tail longer than the wings, broad, more or less graduated. ' 



HARPORHTNCHUS RUFUS. Cabanis. 
The Brown Thrush; Brown Thrasher. 

Turdus rufus, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat, I. (1766) 293. Wilson, Am. Orn., II. (1810) 
83. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 102; V. (1839) 441. 

Orpheus rufus, Swainson. F. Bor. Am., II. (1831) 187. Nuttall, Man. I. (1832) 
328. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Fifth quill longest; the third, fourth, and sixth little shorter; second equal to 
ninth ; exposed portion of the bill shorter than the head ; outline of lower mandible 
straight; above light cinnamon-red, beneath pale rufous-white with longitudinal 

1 This genus, together with the preceding, has been removed from its position in 
the Liotrichidce, as given in vol. IX. Pac. R.R. Reports, and placed in the Turdidce by 
Professor Baird, in his recent Review of the Birds of North America. 



164 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

streaks of dark-brown, excepting on the chin, throat, middle of the belly, and under 
tail coverts; these spots, anteriorly, are reddish-brown in their terminal portion; the 
inner surface of the wing and the inner edges of the primaries are cinnamon ; the con- 
cealed portion of the quills otherwise is dark-brown ; the median and greater wing 
coverts become blackish-brown towards the end, followed by white, producing two 
conspicuous bands ; the tail feathers are all rufous, the external ones obscurely tipped 
with whitish ; the shafts of the same color with the vanes. 

Length, eleven and fifteen one-hundredths inches; wing, four and fifteen one- 
hundredths; tail, five and twenty one-hundredths inches; tarsus, one and thirty 
one-hundredths; iris, golden-yellow. 

Probably none of our summer visitors are better known, 
and none are greater favorites than this bird. Its beautiful 
song and well-known beneficial habits have endeared it to 
the farmer, who takes it under his protection, as he should 
all the Thrushes, and encourages its approach to the garden 
and orchard. The Brown Thrush arrives from the South 
about the middle of April in Connecticut and Rhode Island, 
and the 10th of May in Maine and the other northern dis- 
tricts. The birds seem to be mated before their arrival 
here, as they are almost always observed in pairs at their 
first appearance. The nest is built about the middle of 
May, sooner or later, according to latitude. It is usually 
placed in a bush or thicket of briers or vines, sometimes on 
the ground at the foot of a clump of bushes. It is com- 
posed first of a layer of twigs, then leaves and strips of 
cedar and grape-vine bark, and the whole is covered with 
fibrous roots : the nest is pretty deeply hollowed, and lined 
with fine roots and hairs. The eggs are from three to five 
in number. Their color is a greenish or dirty white, over 
which are thickly sprinkled minute dots of reddish-brown : 
their shape is ovate, and their dimensions vary from 1.16 
by .80 inch to 1.06 by .76 inch. A great number before me 
exhibit these variations, which probably are the greatest of 
this species, as the eggs are generally nearly of a size. Four 
eggs in a nest collected in New Hampshire have the follow- 
ing measurements: 1.12 by .78 inch, 1.12 by .76 inch, 1.08 
by .76 inch, 1.06 by .76 inch. But one brood is reared in 
the season in the Northern States. 



THE BROWN THRUSH. 165 

The song of this bird is difficult of description : it is a 
sort of confused mixture of the notes of different birds, or 
rather seems to be, but is really its own song ; as different 
individuals all sing nearly alike. The fact that it resembles 
the Mocking-bird in its medley of notes has caused it to be 
called, in some localities, the Brown Mocker ; and it is also 
sometimes called the Mavis and Nightingale, from its habit 
of singing in the night during the mating season. 

The description of Wilson's, of the habits of this bird, is 
pretty comprehensive, in fact, the best that I have seen, and 
I give it almost entire. He says, 

" It is the largest of all our Thrushes, and is a well-known and 
very distinguished songster. About the middle or 20th of April, 
or generally about the time the cherry-trees begin to blossom, he 
arrives in Pennsylvania ;, and, from the tops of our hedge-rows, 
sassafras, apple, or cherry trees, he salutes the opening morning 
with his charming song, which is loud, emphatical, and full of 
variety. At that serene hour, you may plainly distinguish his voice 
fully half a mile off. These notes are not imitative, as his name 
would import, and as some people believe, but seem solely his own, 
and have considerable resemblance to the notes of the Song Thrush 
(Turdus musicus) of Britain. Early in May he builds his nest, 
choosing a thorn-bush, low cedar, thicket of briers, dogwood-sapling, 
or cluster of vines, for its situation, generally within a few feet of 
the ground. Outwardly, it is constructed of small sticks ; then, 
layers of dry leaves ; and, lastly, lined with fine, fibrous roots, but 
without any plaster. The eggs are five, thickly sprinkled with fer- 
ruginous grains, on a very pale-bluish ground. They generally have 
two broods in a season. Like all birds that build near the ground, 
he shows great anxiety for the safety of his nest and young, and 
often attacks the black snake in their defence ; generally, too, with 
success, his strength being greater, and his bill stronger and more 
powerful, than any other of his tribe within the United States. His 
food consists of worms, which he scratches from the ground, cater- 
pillars, and many kinds of berries. Beetles, and the whole race of 
coleopterous insects, wherever he can meet with them, are sure to 
suffer. He is accused, by some people, of scratching up the hills 



166 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

of Indian corn, in planting time. This may be partly true ; but, for 
every grain of maize he pilfers, I am persuaded he destroys five 
hundred insects, particularly a large dirty-colored grub, with a 
black head, which is more pernicious to the corn, and other grain 
and vegetables, than nine-tenths of the whole feathered race. He 
is an active, vigorous bird, flies generally low, from one thicket to 
another, with his long, broad tail spread like a fan ; is often seen 
about brier and bramble bushes, along fences ; and has a single note 
or chuck, when you. approach his nest. In Pennsylvania, they are 
numerous, but never fly in flocks. About the middle of September, 
or as soon as they have well recovered from moulting, in which they 
suffer severely, they disappear for the season. In passing through 
the southern parts of Virginia, and south as far as Georgia, in the 
depth of winter, I found them lingering in sheltered situations, 
particularly on the border of swamps and rivers^. On the 1st of 
March, they were in full song round the commons at Savannah, 
as if straining to outstrip the Mocking-bird, that prince of feathered 
musicians. 

" The Thrasher is a welcome visitant in spring, to every lover of 
rural scenery and rural song. In the months of April and May, 
when our woods, hedge-rows, orchards, and cherry-trees, are one 
profusion of blossoms ; when every object around conveys the sweet 
sensations of joy, and Heaven's abundance is, as it were, showering 
around us, the grateful heart beats in unison with the varying, 
elevated strains of this excellent bird : we listen to its notes with 
a kind of devotional ecstasy, as a morning hymn to the great and 
most adorable Creator of all. The human being who, amidst such 
scenes, and in such seasons of rural serenity and delight, can pass 
them with cold indifference, and even contempt, I sincerely pity ; 
for abject must that heart be, and callous those feelings, and de- 
praved that taste, which neither the charms of nature, nor the 
melody of innocence, nor the voice of gratitude or devotion, can 
reach. 

" Concerning the sagacity and reasoning faculty of this bird, my 
venerable friend, Mr. Bartram, writes me as follows : ' I remember 
to have reared one of these birds from the nest, which, when full 
grown, became very tame and docile. I frequently let him out of 
his cage, to give him a taste of liberty. After fluttering, and dusting 



THE MOCKING-BIRD. 167 

himself in dry sand and earth, and bathing, washing, and dressing 
himself, he would proceed to hunt insects, such as beetles, crickets, 
and other shelly tribes ; but, being very fond of wasps, after catch- 
ing them, and knocking them about to break their wings, he would 
lay them down, then examine if they had a sting, and, with his 
bill, squeeze the abdomen to clear it of the reservoir of poison 
before he would swallow his prey. When in his cage, being very 
fond of dry crusts of bread, if upon trial the corners of the crumbs 
were too hard and sharp for his throat, he would throw them up, 
carry and put them in his water-dish to soften, then take them out 
and swallow them.' " 

By the first week in October, the Brown Thrush departs 
on its southern migration, and passes the winter in the 

West Indies and Mexico. 



MIMUS, BOIE. 

Mimus, BOIE, Isis (Oct., 1826) 972. (Type Turdus polyglottus.) 
Bill shorter than the head, decurved from the base, distinctly notched at 
tip; tarsi longer than the middle toe; lateral toes equal, not reaching the base of 
the middle claw, and shorter than the hind toe, the claw of which is half the total 
length; tail variable, equal to or longer than the wings, moderately graduated; 
wings rounded, the exposed portion of the first nearly or quite half that of the 
second, which is considerably shorter than the third. 

MIMUS POLYGLOTTUS. Boie. 
The Mocking-bird, 

Turdus polyglottus, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 293. Wilson, Am. Orn., II. 
(1810) 14. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1831) 108 ; V. (1839) 438. 
Mimus polyglottus, Boie. Isis (Oct., 1826), 972. 
Orpheus polyglottus, Swainson. Zool. Jour., III. (1827) 167. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Third to sixth quills nearly equal, second shorter than seventh; tail considerably 
graduated, above ashy-brown, the feathers very obsoletely darker centrally, and 
towards the light plumbeous downy basal portion (scarcely appreciable, except when 
the feathers are lifted); the under parts are white, with a faint brownish tinge, 
except on the chin, and with a shade of ash across the breast; there is a pale super- 
ciliary stripe, but the lores are dusky; the wings and tail are nearly black, except 
the lesser wing coverts, which are like the back, the middle and greater tipped with 
white, forming two bands, the basal portion of the primaries white, most extended 
on the inner primaries; the outer tail feather is white, the second is mostly white, 



168 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

except on the outer web and towards the base, the third with a white spot on the 
end, the rest, except the middle, very slightly tipped with white ; the bill and legs 
are black. 

Length, nine and fifty one-hundredths inches; wing, four and fifty one-hun- 
dredths; tail, five inches; iris, light-yellow. 

This bird is so exceedingly rare in New England, that it 
can scarcely be regarded otherwise than as an accidental 
visitor; and Massachusetts is certainly its northern limit. 




Mr. Allen, before referred to, says that it has been known 
to breed in Springfield several times within five years, and 
in 1860 two pairs nested there. In June, 1860, he found 
a nest containing three freshly laid eggs, incubation not 
having been begun: the locality was a sandy field, growing 
Tip to pitch-pines, in one of which the nest was placed, 
about three feet from the ground ; the pair was secured 
with the nest and eggs. 

As I have had no opportunities of observing the habits 
of this beautiful songster, I will give the very interesting 
description by Wilson. He says, 

" The precise time at which the Mocking-bird begins to build 
his nest varies according to the latitude in which he resides. In 
the lower parts of Georgia, he commences building early in April, 
but in Pennsylvania rarely before the 10th of May ; and in New 



THE MOCKING-BIRD. 169 

York, and the States of New England, still later. There are par- 
ticular situations to which he gives the preference. A solitary 
thorn bush, an almost impenetrable thicket, an orange-tree, cedar, 
or holly bush, are favorite spots, and frequently selected. It is no 
great objection with him, that these happen, sometimes, to be near 
the farm or mansion-house. Always ready to defend, but never 
over-anxious to conceal, his nest, he very often builds within a 
small distance of the house, and not unfrequently in a pear or 
apple tree ; rarely at a greater height than six or seven feet from 
the ground. The nest varies a little in different individuals, 
according to the conveniency of collecting suitable materials. A 
very complete one is now lying before me, and is composed of the 
following substances : First, a quantity of dry twigs and sticks ; 
then, withered tops of weeds, of the preceding year, intermixed 
with fine straws, hay, pieces of wool and tow ; and, lastly, a thick 
layer of fine fibrous roots, of a light-brown color, lines the whole. 
The eggs are four, sometimes five, of a cinereous-blue, marked with 
large blotches of brown. The female sits fourteen days, arid gener- 
ally produces two broods in the season, unless robbed of her eggs, 
in which case she will even build and lay the third time. She is, 
however, extremely jealous of her nest, and very apt to forsake it 
if much disturbed. It is even asserted by some of our bird-dealers, 
that the old ones will actually destroy the eggs, and poison the 
young, if either the one or the other have been handled. But I 
cannot give credit to this unnatural report. I know, from my own 
experience at least, that it is not always their practice; neither 
have I ever witnessed a case of the kind above mentioned. During 
the period of incubation, neither cat, dog, animal, nor man can 
approach the nest without being attacked. The cats, in particular, 
are persecuted whenever they make their appearance, till obliged 
to retreat. But his whole vengeance is most particularly directed 
against that mortal enemy of his eggs and young, the black snake. 
Whenever the insidious approaches of this reptile are discovered, 
the male darts upon it with the rapidity of an arrow, dexterously 
eluding its bite, and striking it violently and incessantly about the 
head, where it is very vulnerable. The snake soon becomes 
sensible of its danger, and seeks to escape; but the intrepid 
defender of his young redoubles his exertions, and, unless his 



170 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

antagonist be of great magnitude, often succeeds in destroying him. 
All its pretended powers of fascination avail it nothing against 
the vengeance of this noble bird. As the snake's strength begins 
to flag, the Mocking-bird seizes and lifts it up partly from the 
ground, beating it with his wings ; and, when the business is com- 
pleted, he returns to the repository of his young, mounts the 
summit of the bush, and pours out a torrent of song in token of 
victory. . 

" The plumage of the Mocking-bird, though none of the home- 
liest, has nothing gaudy or brilliant in it, and, had he nothing else 
to recommend him, would scarcely entitle him to notice ; but his 
figure is well proportioned, and even handsome. The ease, ele- 
gance, and rapidity of his movements, the animation of his eye, 
and the intelligence he displays in listening and laying up lessons 
from almost every species of the feathered creation within his 
hearing, are really surprising, and mark the peculiarity of his 
genius. To these qualities we may add that of a voice full, strong, 
and musical, and capable of almost every modulation, from the 
clear, mellow tones of the Wood Thrush, to the savage scream of 
the Bald Eagle. In measure and accent, he faithfully follows his 
originals. In force and sweetness of expression, he greatly im- 
proves upon them. In his native groves, mounted on the top of a 
tall bush or half-grown tree, in the dawn of dewy morning, while the 
woods are already vocal with a multitude of warblers, his admirable 
song rises pre-eminent over every competitor. The ear can listen 
to his music alone, to which that of all the others seems a mere 
accompaniment. Neither is this strain altogether imitative. His 
own native notes, which are easily distinguishable by such as are 
well acquainted with those of our various song-birds, are bold and 
full, and varied seemingly beyond all limits. They consist of short 
expressions of two, three, or, at the most, five or six syllables, 
generally interspersed with imitations, and all of them uttered with 
great emphasis and rapidity, and continued with undiminished 
ardor for half an hour or an hour at a time. His expanded wings 
and tail, glistening with white, and the buoyant gayety of his 
action, arresting the eye, as his song most irresistibly does the ear, 
he sweeps round with enthusiastic ecstasy; he mounts and de- 
scends as his song swells or dies away ; and, as my friend Mr. 



THE MOCKING-BIRD. 171 

Bartram has beautifully expressed it, He bounds aloft with the 
celerity of an arrow, as if to recover or recall his very soul, 
expired in the last elevated strain.' l While thus exerting him- 
self, a bystander destitute of sight would suppose that the whole 
feathered tribes had assembled together, on a trial of skill, each 
striving to produce his utmost effect, so perfect are his imita- 
tions. He many times deceives the sportsman, and sends him in 
search of birds that perhaps are not within miles of him, but 
whose notes he exactly imitates; even birds themselves are' fre- 
quently imposed on by this admirable mimic, and are decoyed by 
the fancied calls of their mates, or dive with precipitation into the 
depth of thickets at the scream of what they suppose to be the 
Sparrow-hawk. 

" The Mocking-bird loses little of the power and energy of his 
song by confinement. In his domesticated state, when he com- 
mences his career of song, it is impossible to stand by uninterested. 
He whistles for the dog, Caesar starts up, wags his tail, and runs 
to meet his master. He squeaks out like a hurt chicken, and 
the hen hurries about with hanging wings and bristled feathers, 
clucking to protect its injured brood. The barking of the dog, the 
mewing of the cat, the creaking of a passing wheelbarrow, follow 
with great truth and rapidity. He repeats the tune taught him by 
his master, though of considerable length, fully and faithfully. He 
runs over the quiverings of the Canary, and the clear whistlings 
of the Virginia Nightingale, or Red-bird, with such superior execu- 
tion and effect, that the mortified songsters feel their own inferiority, 
and become altogether silent, while he seems to triumph in their 
defeat by redoubling his exertions. 

" This excessive fondness for variety, however, in the opinion 
of some, injures his song. His elevated imitations of the Brown 
Thrush are frequently interrupted by the crowing of cocks ; and 
the warblings of the Blue-bird, which he exquisitely manages, are 
mingled with the screaming of swallows, or the cackling of hens ; 
amidst the simple melody of the Robin, we are suddenly surprised 
by the shrill reiterations of the Whippoorwill ; while the notes of 
the Killdeer, Blue Jay, Martin, Baltimore, and twenty others, suc- 
ceed with such imposing reality, that we look round for the origi- 

1 Travels, p. 32. Introd. 



172 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

nals, and discover, with astonishment, that the sole performer in 
this singular concert is the admirable bird now before us. During 
this exhibition of his powers, he spreads his wings, expands his tail, 
and throws himself around the cage in all the ecstasy of enthu- 
siasm, seeming not only to sing, but to dance, keeping time to the 
measure of his own music. Both in his native and domesticated 
state, during the solemn stillness of night, as soon as the moon 
rises in silent majesty, he begins his delightful solo, and sere- 
nades us the livelong night with a full display of his vocal 
powers, making the whole neighborhood ring with his inimitable 
medley." 

A number of eggs in my collection average about .98 of 
an inch in length by about .70 inch in breadth ; their form 
is generally ovate, and their color a pale emerald-green, 
with spots of ferruginous and brown. 

GALEOSCOPTES, CABANIS. 

Galeoscoptes, CABANIS, Mus. Hein., I. (1850) 82. (Type Muscicapa Caroli- 
nensis.) 

Bill shorter than the head, rather broad at base ; rictal bristles moderately devel- 
oped, reaching to the nostrils ; wings a little shorter than the tail, rounded ; second- 
aries well developed, fourth and fifth quills longest, third and sixth little shorter, 
first and ninth about equal, and about the length of secondaries, first quill more 
than half the second, about half the third ; tail graduated, tail feather about seventy 
one-hundredths inch shorter than the middle ; tarsi longer than lateral middle toe 
and claw by about an additional half claw, scutellate anteriorly, more or less dis- 
tinctly in different specimens; scutellae about seven. 

The conspicuous naked membranous border round the eye of some thrushes, 
with the bare space behind it, not appreciable. 

GALEOSCOPTES CAROLINENSIS. Cabanis. 
The Cat-bird. 

Muscicapa Carolinensis, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 328. 
Orpheus Carolinensis, Audubon. Syn. (1839), 88. 
Mimus Carolinensis, Gray. Genera (1844-49). 

Turdus felivox, Vieillot. Ois. Am. Sept., II. (1807) 10. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. 
(1831) 171; V. 1839, 440. 

Orpheus felivox, Swainson. F. Bor. Am., II. (1831 ) 192. 
Turdus Ikulus, Wilson. Am Orn., II. (1810) 90. 



THE CAT-BIRD. 173 

DESCRIPTION. 

Third quill longest, first shorter than sixth; prevailing color dark plumbeous, 
more ashy beneath ; crown and nape dark sooty-brown ; wings dark-brown, edged 
with plumbeous; tail greenish-black, the lateral feathers obscurely tipped with 
plumbeous ; the under tail coverts dark-brownish chestnut ; female smaller. 

Length, eight and eighty-five one-hundredths inches; wing, three and sixty-five 
one-hundredths ; tail, four; tarsus, one and five one-hundredths inch. 

This very common and well-known species arrives in 
New England about the first week in May, in Maine, 
perhaps about the 15th of that month. It is distributed 
abundantly throughout these States, and its habits are so 
well known that a description here is hardly necessary. 
During the mating season, and indeed through the greater 
part of the summer, the song of the male is heard in the 
woods, pastures, and gardens at early morning, and some- 
times through the day ; and, although most persons describe 
it as being harsh and uncouth, it is really very pleasing and 
melodious. It is a sort of medley, like that of the Brown 
Thrush, but not near so loud : the bird usually perches on 
a low tree, where, standing nearly erect, his wings slightly 
expanded, and his tail spread beneath him, he pours forth 
his notes sometimes for half an hour at a time. In addition 
to this song, he, in common with the female, has a plaintive 
note almost exactly like the mewing of a cat ; and the spe- 
cific name of felivox, given it v by some authors, is much 
more descriptive and appropriate than that of Carolinensis, 
which is neither descriptive nor proper. 

The alarm-note is a rattling cry, like the sound of quick 
breaking of several strong sticks: it is perhaps well ex- 
pressed by the syllables trat-tat-tat-tat, uttered very quickly. 
I have noticed that this bird, as do many others, prefers the 
neighborhood of thickly settled districts, even a home in 
their midst, to others of a wilder character; and, when 1 
travelling through the deep forests, I have invariably found, 
that, when these birds became abundant, a settlement was 
near. 

Soon after mating, the birds build : this is from about the 



174 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

20th of May to the first week in June. The nest is usually 
placed in bushes and shrubs, seldom more than four or five 
feet from the ground ; the location as often in the deep 
woods as in the fields or pastures. It is constructed first 
of a layer of twigs and sticks, on which is built the body of 
the nest, which is composed of strips of grape-vine bark, 
fine twigs, leaves, and straws : it is deeply hollowed, and 
lined with fibrous roots and hairs, and sometimes fine grass. 
The eggs are usually four in number, sometimes five : their 
color is a bright, deep emerald-green, and their form gener- 
ally ovate. A great number of specimens before me do not 
exhibit great variations in measurement from the dimen- 
sions of a nest complement of four collected in Thornton, 
N.H. ; they are as follows : .95 by .67 inch ; .95 by .66 
inch ; .93 by .67 inch ; .93 by .66 inch. Two broods are 
reared in the season, seldom three in this latitude. 

About the middle of October, this species moves in its 
Southern migration. 



THE BLUE-BIRD. 175 



FAMILY SAXICOLIDJE. 1 THE ROCK INHABITERS. 

Wings very long and much pointed, reaching beyond the middle of the short 
square or emarginated tail, and one and a half times or more the length of the 
latter; the spurious primary very short, the second quill longer than the fourth; in 
the closed wing, the outer secondary reaches only about two-thirds the length of the 
longest primary. 

SIALIA, SWAINSON. 

Sialia, SWAINSON, Zool. Jour., III. (Sept., 1827) 173. (8. Wilsonii.) 
Bill short, stout, broader than high at the base, then compressed, slightly notched 
at tip; rictus with short bristles; tarsi not longer than the middle toe; claws con- 
siderably curved ; wings much longer than the tail, the first primary spurious, not 
one-fourth the longest ; tail moderate, slightly forked. 



SIALIA SIALIS. Baird. 
The Blue-bird; Red-breasted Blue-bird. 

Motadtla sialis, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1758) 187. Gmelin, Syst. Nat, I. 
(1788) 989. 

Sylvia sialis, Latham. Index Orn., II. (1790) 522. Wilson, Am. Orn.,I. (1808) 56. 
Aud. Orn. Biog , II. (1834) 84; V. (1839) 452. 

Ampelis sialis, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 444. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Entire upper parts, including wings and tail, continuous and uniform azure-blue, 
the cheeks of a duller tint of the same ; beneath reddish-brown ; the abdomen, anal 
region, and under tail coverts white ; bill and feet black ; shafts of the quills and 
tail feathers black ; female with the blue lighter, and tinged with brown on the head 
and back. 

Length, six and seventy-five one-hundredths inches ; wing, four inches ; tail, two 
and ninety one-hundredths inches. 

THIS beautiful bird is a very common summer inhabitant 
of all New England. It is one of the earliest in its 
arrival from the South, often making its appearance by the 
middle of March, sometimes even earlier. About the middle 
of April, immediately after mating, the birds commence pre- 
paring their nest : this is made in a deserted woodpecker's 

1 I have adopted the arrangement given by Professor Baird in his recent review, 
in this family and the succeeding, as far as SYLVICOLID.E. 






176 



ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



hole, in a martin's box, or in a knot-hole in a fence-post. 
The materials used in its construction are generally soft 
grasses, feathers, and wools: these are thrown together 




without any great care, the object being to get comfort and 
warmth in the early season in which the first litter of eggs 
is laid. The eggs are either four or five in number : they 
are of a light-blue color, with a very faint greenish tint. 
Five specimens, taken at random from a great number, 
exhibit the following measurements : .86 by .62 inch, .85 
by .62 inch, .84 by .61 inch, .82 by .60 inch, .80 by .60 
inch. This species raises two broods, usually in the same 
nest, in the season. 

The Blue-bird's habits are pretty well known; and its 
insectivorous character, and social and happy disposition, 
have established it as a great favorite. 






THE BLUE-BIRD. 177 

Its song is a soft pleasing warble, which is often repeated, 
and is uttered by the bird both when flying and perching. 
In capturing insects, it has many of the habits of the Fly- 
catchers. It remains perching on a post or twig until its 
prey shows itself, when it suddenly flies at it flapping 
its wings rapidly, seizes it, and returns to its perch to eat 
it. It often descends quickly, and seizes a grasshopper that 
is crawling on a straw or weed ; and, if it misses its aim, 
even follows it while flying. 

About the last week of October, the parents and young 
leave in a detached flock for the South. 



12 



178 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



FAMILY SYLVIIDJE. THE WOOD-INHABITERS. 

" Bill slender, broad, and depressed at the base, distinctly notched and decurved 
at the tip ; culmen sharp ridged at base ; frontal feathers reaching to the nostrils, 
which are oval, with membrane above, and overhung not concealed by a few 
bristles or by a feather ; rictal bristles extending beyond nostrils ; tarsi booted or 
scutellate; basal joint of middle toe attached its whole length externally, half-way 
internally ; primaries ten ; spurious primary about half the second, which is shorter 
than the seventh; lateral toes equal." BAIKD. 



KEGULUS, CUVIEK. 

Regulus, CUVIER, Le?ons d'Anat. Comp., 1799-1800 (Agassiz). (Type Motadlla 
regulus, Linnaeus; Regulus cristatw, Koch.) 

Bill slender, much shorter than the head, depressed at base, but becoming rapidly 
compressed, moderately notched at tip ; culmen straight to near the tip, then gently 
curved; commissure straight; gonys convex; rictus well provided with bristles; 
nostril covered by a single bristly feather directed forwards; tarsi elongated, 
exceeding considerably the middle toe, and without scutellae; lateral toes about 
equal, hind toe with the claw longer than the middle one, and about half the toe; 
claws all much curved ; first primary about one-third as long as the longest, second 
equal to fifth or sixth ; tail shorter than the wings, moderately forked, the feathers 
acuminate ; colors olive-green above, whitish beneath ; size very small. 



REGULUS CALENDULA. Licht. 
The Ruby-crowned Wren. 

Motadlla calendula, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 337. 

Sylvia calendida, Wilson. Am. Orn., I. (1808) 83. 

Regulus calendula, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 415. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 546. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Above dark greenish-olive, passing into bright olive-green on the rump and 
outer edges of the wings and tail ; crown with a large concealed patch of scarlet 
feathers, which are white at the base; the under parts are grayish-white tinged 
with pale olive-yellow, especially behind ; a ring round the eye, two bands on the 
wing coverts, and the exterior of the inner tertials white. Young without the red 
on the crown. The female differs very little in color. It is quite probable that the 
species does not attain the red patch in the crown until the second year, as the 
spring migrations of the species always embrace a considerable number with 
the head perfectly plain. 

Length, four and fifty one-hundredths inches ; wing, two and thirty-three one- 
hundredths ; tail, one and eighty-five one-hundredths. 



THE GOLDEN.-CRESTED WREN. 179 

THIS diminutive species is a quite common spring and 
autumn visitor in New England, arriving from the 
South from April the 13th to the 20th in the different States. 
They are generally first seen in evergreen woods ; but 
later are found among the opening foliage and blossoms of 
forest and orchard trees, particularly the oak, elm, maple, 
and apple, darting about, climbing on the small twigs, 
and prying in all directions in search of minute flying 
insects, their eggs and larvae, frequenting the tops of the 
trees as well as the lower branches. By the 12th of May, 
they depart for the North to rear their young, breeding 
in Canada, Labrador, &c. From about the 1st of October 
to the last of that month, they are again with us, and are 
seen diligently engaged in pursuit of food in our woods and 
orchards. 

They are not shy in their habits, and will permit one to 
approach quite near them. I have noticed that they remain 
in one cluster of twigs until it is completely cleared of 
insects, and they often employ ten minutes in searching it 
completely. 

The Ruby Crown winters in the more southern States of 
the Union and in Mexico. On clear, fine days in spring, I 
have heard this bird warble a beautiful song; and it has 
also a peculiar guttural, querulous call-note, which often 
precedes this song. I know nothing of its breeding habits. 

REGULUS SATRAPA. Licht. 
The Golden-crested Wren. 

Regulus, satrapa, Lichtenstein. Verzeich. Doubl. (1823), No. 410 (Quotes Partis 
satrapa, Illiger, probably a museum name). Aud. Syn. (1839), 82. /ft., Birds 
Arner., II. (1841) 165. 

Sylvia regulus, Wilson. Am. Orn., I. (1808) 126. 

Regulus tricolor, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832), 420. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 476. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Above olive-green, brightest on the outer edges of the wing; tail feathers tinged 
with brownish-gray towards the head; forehead, a line over the eye and a space 



180 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

beneath it, white ; exterior of the crown before and laterally black, embracing a 
central patch of orange-red, encircled by gamboge-yellow ; a dusky space around 
the eye; wing coverts with two yellowish-white bands, the posterior covering, a 
similar band on the quills, succeeded by a broad dusky one; under parts dull 
whitish. 

The black of the head immediately succeeds the white frontal band as one of 
about the same width, passing behind on each side. Generally the white line over 
the eye is separated from the white forehead by a dusky lore. There is also a 
dusky space beneath the whitish under the eye. The yellow of the crown 
generally overlies and conceals the orange. The orange is wanting in the fe- 
male. The young birds always appear to have at least the yellow and black of the 
crown. 

Length, under four inches ; wing, two and twenty-five one-hundredths inches ; 
tail, one and eighty one-hundredths inches. 

This handsome and active species is also a common bird, 
coming to us from the North the last of September, but, 
unlike the preceding, braving the rigors of our winter; 
and it leaves again by the 15th of April. Numbers, how- 
ever, winter farther south ; and it is in spring and autumn 
that the species is most abundant. On their arrival in 
autumn, they frequent orchard trees, feeding among the 
leaves of the apple-trees, which, at this season, are infested 
with insects. Later, and in winter, they resort more often 
to the evergreens, such as the pine, spruce, and cedar, 
but rove whereVer they can find food, generally in company 
with the Chickadees, and occasionally the White-breasted 
Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, and Downy Woodpecker; the 
whole forming a lively, busy winter party, as they perambu- 
late the country, intent on gathering their now scanty food. 
Their call-note at this season, indeed the only note that I 
have heard at any time, is a faint pipe or whistle, sounded 
quickly three or four times. I have never heard this bird 
utter the querulous note assigned to it by Audubon and 
Nuttall, but have often heard the Ruby Crown give this 
strain. In spring, having similar habits and diet with the 
Ruby Crowns, they frequent the same hunting-grounds, and 
are seen hanging to the extremities of twigs, head down- 
wards, and sometimes fluttering in the air in front of them, 
seizing small flies, " and often exposing the golden feathers 



THE GOLDEN-CRESTED WREN. 181 

of their head, which are opened and shut with great adroit- 
ness." This species may possibly breed in Maine, having 
been seen there in summer ; but I do not remember of its 
having been found in the breeding season south of that 
State. 



182 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



FAMILY PARIDJE. 

Bill generally short,' conical, not notched nor decurved at tip ; culmen broad and 
rounded, not sharp-ridged at base ; nostrils rounded, basal, and concealed by dense 
bristles or bristly feathers ; loral feathers rough and bristly, directed forwards ; tarsi 
distinctly scutellate; basal joints of anterior toes abbreviated, that of middle toe 
united about equally for three-fourths its length to the lateral, in Parince forming a 
kind of palm for grasping; outer lateral toe decidedly longer than the inner; prima- 
ries ten, the first much shorter than the second ; tail feathers without soft tips. 

The two sub-families may be thus distinguished : 

Parince. Body compressed ; bill shorter than the head ; wings rounded, equal 
to or shorter than the rounded tail, second quill as short as the tenth ; tarsus longer 
than the middle toe and claw, which are about equal to the hinder; soles of toes 
widened into a palm ; plumage rather soft and lax. 

Sittince. Body depressed ; bill about equal to or longer than the head ; wings 
much pointed, much longer than the nearly even tail ; tarsus shorter than the mid- 
dle toe and claw, which are about equal to the hinder; plumage more compact. 

Sub-Family PARING. The Titmice. 
PARUS, LINNJEUS. 

Parus, LINN^TUS, Syst. Nat., 1735 (Agassiz). (Type P. major.) 
Head not crested; body and head stout; tail moderately long, and slightly 
rounded ; bill conical, not veiy stout, the upper and under outlines very gently and 
slightly convex ; tarsus but little longer than middle toe ; crown and throat gener- 
ally black. 

PARUS ATRICAPILLUS. Linrums. 

The Black-cap Titmouse; Chick-a-dee. 

Parus atricapittus, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 341. Wilson, Am. Orn., I. 
(1808) 134. Aud. Orn. Biog., IV. (1838). 
Parus palustris, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 79. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Second quill as long as the secondaries; tail very slightly rounded, lateral 
feathers about ten one-hundredths shorter than middle ; back brownish-ashy ; top of 
head and throat black, sides of head between them white, beneath whitish; brown- 
ish-white on the sides ; outer tail feathers, some of primaries, and secondaries con- 
spicuously margined with white. 

Length, five inches; wing, two and fifty one-hundredths inches; tail, two and 
fifty one-hundredths inches. 

THIS well-known little bird is a very common resident 
of all New England throughout the year. It is one 
of the very few species that are as abundant in the depths of 



THE BLACK-CAP TITMOUSE. 



183 




Hudson's Bay Titmouse, upper flg. 
Black-cap Titmouse, lower flg. 



winter as through the summer, and it is deservedly one 
of the greatest favorites. It 
commences building as early as 
the second week in May. The 
nest is placed in a hole exca- 
vated in a dead tree or stump. 
This hole is, like that of the 
Woodpecker, gradually widened 
at the bottom, and is about nine 
or ten inches in depth. The' 
nest is constructed of soft moss 
and the hairs of different ani- 
mals. One beautiful specimen 
that I found in the northern 
part of Maine is composed of 
the hair of the common deer, 
moose, and hare, a few feathers 
of the Ruffed Grouse, and a few fragments of soft mosses. 
They are woven into a warm and comfortable tenement. 

The eggs are from six to ten in number, usually about 
six. They are of a nearly pure-white color, with a faint 
reddish tint, and are spotted thickly, at the greater end, 
with markings of reddish-brown : their form is nearly spher- 
ical, and their dimensions vary from .65 by .52 inch to .60 
by .50 inch. Two broods are often reared in the season. 

The habits of this little bird are so well known, and have 
been written about so much, that any description here is 
almost superfluous. It is eminently kindly and sociable in 
its disposition ; and, although almost always in company 
with other birds, such as the Golden-crested and Ruby- 
crowned Wrens, Nuthatches, <fcc., it is never seen quar- 
relling with them, but fraternizes with them in the most 
cordial manner. Often, when seated in the woods, have 1 
been surrounded by them ; and their curiosity to learn the 
cause of my presence and my employment was so great, 
that they would often perch on a twig within two feet of my 



184 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

head, and scrutinize me with their shining black eyes in a 
manner amusing to witness. 

Ostensibly, they were searching beneath the bark for their 
food ; but really they were watching me. I once had one 
perch on my boot, and look in my face with a perfectly plain 
u what-do-you-want-here " expression on its countenance. 
Always at short intervals, while perched in trees, and some- 
times while flying, this bird utters its song, which consists 
of several notes, that may be described by the syllables 
cheweek-a-dee-dee-dee, cheweek-a-dee-dee-dee, emitted in a 
clear, sweet tone, easily recognized, and not to be mistaken 
for any other song. The flight of this species is wavering, 
and not protracted; the bird seldom extending it further 
than from one tree to another. When in the air at any 
considerable height, it resembles the flight of the Wood- 
peckers, being undulating and partly gliding. 

In some localities, the Titmouse is regarded as injurious, 
from the fact that it is often seen among the branches and 
leaves of the fruit-trees and shrubs, pecking off and destroy- 
ing the buds. It does riot do this to the bud for food, but 
really for the grub contained in it. t If these buds be exam- 
ined after the Chick-a-dee has thrown them away, the bur- 
row of a grub or caterpillar will appear in the very heart 
of them. The bird is able to discover the presence of these 
vermin much more readily than man could ; and it is thus 
able to assail them at a period of their existence when they 
are doing the most harm. But it is not the insects and 
their larvae alone that he destroys. His microscopic eyes 
enable him to discover their eggs deposited on and in the 
crevices of the bark and in the buds, and in an instant he 
can destroy the whole future brood. The eggs of the moth 
of the destructive leaf-rolling caterpillar, those of the canker- 
worm, the apple-tree moth, and others of these well-known 
plagues, are greedily eaten by it ; and this is in the inclem- 
ent winter, when most of our other birds have abandoned 
us for a more genial climate. 



THE HUDSON'S BAY TITMOUSE. 185 

In the summer time, the Chick-a-dee's labors are more 
easily noticed ; and as he raises a large brood of young, the 
female laying six or eight eggs at a litter, he is very busy 
through the whole day in capturing vast quantities of cater- 
pillars, flies, and grubs. It has been calculated that a single 
pair of these birds destroy, on the average, not less than five 
hundred of these pests daily ; a labor which could hardly be 
surpassed by a man, even if he gave his whole time to the 
task. 

" Moreover, the man could not be as successful at so 
small a cost ; for, setting aside the value of his time and 
the amount of a laborer's daily wages, he could not reach the 
denser and loftier twigs on which the caterpillars revel, and 
which the Titmouse can traverse with perfect ease. No 
man can investigate a tree, and clear it of the insect hosts 
that constantly beleaguer it, without doing some damage to 
the buds and young leaves by his rough handling ; whereas 
the Chick-a-dee trips along the branches, peeps under every 
leaf, swings himself round upon his perch, spies out 
every insect, and secures it with a peck so rapid that it is 
hardly perceptible." 

In some observations made on the habits of this and 
some other birds in Paris, it was found that the Titmouse 
destroys, at the lowest computation, over two hundred 
thousand eggs alone of noxious insects in the course of a 
year. That one small bird is thus able to accomplish so 
much good in destroying these myriads of vermin is an 
appeal to the good sense of the farmer, for the protection of 
the whole class, that should not be slighted. 

PABUS HUDSONICUS. Forster. 

The Hudson's Bay Titmouse. 

Parus Hudsonicus, Forster. Philos. Trans., LXII. (1772) 383, 430. Aud. Orn. 
Biog., II. (1834) 543. Ib., Birds Amer., II. (1841) 155. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Above yellowish olivaceous-brown; top of head purer brown, not very different 
in tint; chin and throat dark sooty-brown; sides of head white; beneath white; 



186 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

sides and anal regions light brownish-chestnut; no whitish on wings or tail; tail 
nearly even, or slightly emarginate and rounded ; lateral feathers about twenty one- 
hundredths inch shortest. 

Length, about five inches ; wing, two and forty one-hundredths inches ; tail, two 
and sixty-six one-hundredths inches. 

Hob. North-eastern portions of North America to the North Atlantic States. 

This bird occurs in New England only in the most 
northern parts of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, 
where it is sometimes resident. I have never met with it 
alive, and will be obliged to avail myself of Audubon's 
description of its habits, nest, &c. He says, in describing 
the nest: 

" It was placed at the height of not more than three feet from 
the ground, in the hollow of a decayed low stump, scarcely thicker 
than a man's leg ; the whole so rotten that it crumbled to pieces on 
being touched. I cautiously removed the woody enclosure, and 
took possession of the nest, which I obtained in perfect order. It 
was shaped like a purse, eight inches in depth, two in diameter 
inside ; its sides about half an inch thick. It was entirely com- 
posed of the finest fur of different quadrupeds, but principally of 
the great northern hare, so thickly and ingeniously matted through- 
out, that it looked as if it had been ' felted ' by the hand of man. 
It was quite elastic throughout, and rather wider at the bottom, 
probably in consequence of the natural growth of the young." 

This hardy little bird resembles in its manners the other 
species of its interesting and beautiful tribe : its notes 
resemble those of our southern Black-headed Titmouse, but 
are much weaker. 



Sub-Family SITTING. The Nuthatches. 
SITTA, LINN^US. 

Sitta, LINN^US, Syst. Nat. 1735 (Agassiz). 

Bill subulate, acutely pointed, compressed, about as long as the head; culmen 
and commissure nearly straight ; gonys convex and ascending ; nostrils covered by a 
tuft of bristles directed forward ; tarsi stout, scutellate, about equal to the middle 
toe, much shorter than the hinder, the claw of which is half the total length ; outer 



THE WHITE-BELLIED NUTHATCH. 187 

lateral toe much longer than inner, and nearly equal to the middle; tail very short, 
broad, and nearly even, the feathers soft and truncate ; wings reaching nearlv to the 
end of the tail, long and acute, the first primary one-third of (or less) the third, or 
longest. 

SITTA CAROLINENSIS. Gmelin. 
The White-bellied Nuthatch. 

Sitta Carolinensis, Latham. Ind. Orn., I. (1790) 262. Wilson, Am. Orn., I. 
(1808) 40. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 581. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 299; V. (1839) 47s! 

DESCRIPTION. 

Above ashy-blue ; top of head and neck black ; under parts and sides of head, to 
a short distance above the eye, white ; under tail coverts and tibial feathers brown ; 
concealed primaries white ; bill stout. 

Length, about six inches ; wing, about three and three-quarters inches. 

Hpb. Eastern North America to the high central plains. West of this, replaced 
by S. aculeata. 

This species is a not uncommon one in New England, 
where it is found through the winter. In the more north- 
ern districts, it is a summer resident; and it sometimes 
breeds as far south as Massachusetts. A nest was found in 
Cambridge, Mass., in June, 1865. It was made in an exca- 
vation in a dead tree (or rather stump), which was carried 
to the depth of perhaps eight inches. The nest was com- 
posed of soft grasses, hairs, and a few feathers: these were 
arranged compactly in the bottom of the hole to the depth 
of perhaps an inch and a half. The eggs were six in num- 
ber, four of them are now before me : they are ovoidal in 
shape, of a beautiful roseate- white color, and covered more 
or less thickly with fine spots and dashes of light-reddish. 
Their dimensions are .80 by .61 inch, .80 by .60 inch, .78 
by .58 inch, .75 by .57 inch. Another specimen, collected 
in the Adirondack Mountains, is marked more sparingly 
with coarser and darker spots : its dimensions are .70 by 
.57 inch. 

The habits of this species are very similar to those of the 
small woodpeckers ; and they are equally industrious with 
those birds in their search for the larvae and eggs of insects, 
which they obtain by boring in the bark, and knocking off 



188 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

the moss and dead pieces of trees with their sharp, powerful 
bill. 

In traversing the limbs of trees, they resemble in their 
movements the Downy Woodpecker ; and their flight is also 
similar to that bird's. The note is a short, harsh call, simi- 
lar to the syllables eha-cha-cha-chd, uttered quickly, and with 
emphasis. 

SITTA CANADENSIS. Linnceus. 
The Red-bellied Nuthatch. 

Sitla Canadensis, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat, I. (1766) 177. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 583. 
Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 24; V. 474. 

Sitta varia, Wilson. Am. Orn., I. (1808) 40. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Above ashy-blue ; top of head black ; a white line above and a black one through 
the eye j chin white ; rest of under parts brownish-rusty. 

Length, about four and a half inches; wing, two and two-thirds inches. 
Hab. North America to the Rocky Mountains, probably also to the Pacific. 

The same remarks as to distribution, habits, &c., will 
apply to this species as to the preceding. It is quite abun- 
dant as a summer resident in the wilds of Maine; and its 
notes are almost the first sound heard by the traveller on 
awakening in the early morning. I have sometimes heard 
its note in the night, while floating in my canoe on the 
bosom of some tranquil lake or between the banks of a 
sombre river ; and frequently they seemed to be high up 
in the air, as if the bird had taken flight. These notes 
are a sort of drawling repetition of the syllable chape, like 
perhaps the following : Cheadpe, cheadpe, cheadpe. 

The nest is built in a hole in a tree or stump, usually 
excavated by the birds for the purpose : it is of the same 
description as that of the preceding, as are also the eggs 
with the exception of size ; the present being considerably 
smaller, averaging .64 by .53 inch. 

Audubon, in describing the nest of the Red-bellied Nut- 
hatch, says, 



THE RED-BELLIED NUTHATCH. 189 

" I found it building its nest near Eastport, in Maine, on the 
19th of May, before the Blue-bird had made its appearance there, 
and while much ice still remained on the northern exposures. The 
nest is dug in a low, dead stump, seldom more than four feet from 
the ground ; both the male and the female working by turns until 
they have got to the depth of about fourteen inches. The eggs, 
four in number, are small, and of a white color, tinged with a deep 
blush, and sprinkled with reddish dots. They raise, I believe, 
only one brood in the season." 

Although I found a pair on Nantucket in June, 1866, 
which had young without doubt, the only other occurrence 
of this bird's breeding in New England that has come to 
my knowledge was in West Roxbury, Mass., in June, 1866, 
when a nest was found in an old stump by my young friend, 
William Minot, jun. The eggs were four in number, and 
were of the description given above. 



190 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



FAMILY CERTHIIADJE. THE CREEPERS. 

First primary very short, less than half the second; outer lateral toe much 
longest; hind toe exceeding both the middle toe and the tarsus, which is scutellate 
anteriorly, and very short ; bill slender, as long as, or longer than, the head, much 
compressed and greatly decurved ; gonys concave, without any notch ? entire basal 
joint of the middle toes united to the lateral, the feathers stiffened at the tips; tail 
long, cuneate. 

CERTHIA, LINN^US. 

Certhia, LINN/EUS, Syst. Nat., 1735 (Gray). (Type C. familiaris.) 
Bill as long as the head, slender, much compressed and decurved from the base, 
without notch or rictal bristles; tarsi distinctly scutellate, very short, not longer than 
the outer lateral toes, which much exceeds the inner, reaching nearly as far as the 
middle toe ; hind toe longer than the middle one, its claw more than half the total 
length ; claws all very long and acute ; tail rather longer than the wings, arched or 
vaulted, graduated or cuneate ; the feathers very acute at the tips, the shafts stiff- 
ened; first primary rather more than one-third the fourth or longest one; color 
above brown, streaked with white, beneath white. 



CERTHIA AMERICANA. Bonaparte. 
The American Creeper. 

Certhia Americana, Bonaparte. Consp. List (1838). 

Certhia familiaris, Wilson. Am. Orn., I. (1808) 122. Aud. Orn Biog., V. 
(1839) 158. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill about the length of the head; above dark-brown, with a slightly rufous 
shade, each feather streaked centrally, but not abruptly, with whitish ; rump rusty ; 
beneath almost silky-white ; the under tail coverts with a faint rusty tinge ; a white 
streak over the eye ; the ear coverts streaked with whitish ; tail feathers brown cen- 
trally, the edges paler yellowish-brown ; wings with a transverse bar of pale reddish- 
white across both webs. 

Length, about five and fifty one-hundredths inches; wing, two and sixty one- 
hundredths inches; tail, two and ninety one-hundredths inches. 

Hob. North America generally. 

THIS species is a resident of the three southern New- 
England States through the year : in the other States, 
it is not a common summer visitor. It arrives from the 
South about the middle of April, and, on pairing, com- 
mences building about the second week in May. The nest 



THE AMERICAN CREEPER. 191 



is built in a hollow limb of a tree, in a deserted nest of a 
woodpecker or squirrel, or a hole in a fence-post. Usually 
the locality is chosen in the deep woods, and seldom near 
dwellings or in the orchards. The materials used in the 
construction are soft grasses, feathers, and the bark of 
the cedar and grape-vine. The eggs are usually about six in 
number : their color is a dull-gray ; and they are marked, 
thickest near the great end, with small spots of reddish- 
brown, and a few dabs of a darker color. Mr. Allen speaks 
of a nest being found " in a large elm in Court Square, 
Springfield, about ten feet from the ground, and built behind 
a strip of thick bark that projected in such a way as to leave 
a protected cavity behind it." Dimensions of eggs average 
about .70 by .50 inch. But one brood is reared in the 
season in New England. 



192 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



FAMILY TROGLODYTIDJE. THE WRENS. 

"Rictal bristles wanting; the loral feathers with bristly points ; the fronta Weathers 
generally not reaching to nostrils; nostrils varied, exposed or not covered bv 
feathers, and generally overhung by a scale-like membrane; bill usually without 
notch; wings much rounded, about equal to tail, which is graduated; primaries ten, 
the first generally about half the second; basal joint of middle toe usually united to 
half the basal joint of inner, and the whole of that of the outer, or more; lateral 
toes about equal, or the outer a little the Longer; tarsi scutellate." BAIRD. 



CISTOTHORUS, CABANIS. 

Cistotkorus, CABANIS, Mus. Hein. (1850-51), 77. (Type Troglodytes stellaris.) 
Bill about as long as the head or much shorter, much compressed, not notched, 
gently decurved from the middle; the gonys slightly concave or straight; toes- 
reaching to the end of the tail ; tarsus longer than the middle toe ; hind toe longer 
than the lateral, shorter than the middle, lateral toes about equal, hind toe longer 
than or equal to its digit; wings rather longer than the tail, all the feathers of which 
are much graduated, the lateral only two-thirds the middle ; the feathers narrow ; 
back black, conspicuously streaked with white. 



CISTOTHORUS PALUSTRIS. Cabanis. 
The Long-billed Marsh Wren. 

Certhia palustris, Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 58. 

Troglodytes palusti-is, Bonaparte. Obs. Wils. (1824), No. 66. Aud. Orn. Biog., 
I. (1831) 500; V. (1839) 467. 

Thryothorus palustris, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 439. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill about as long as head; tail and wing nearly equal; upper parts of a dull 
reddish-brown, except on the crown, interscapular region, outer surface of tertiuls, 
and tail feathers, which are almost black, the first with a median patch like the 
ground-color; the second with short streaks of white, extending round on the sides 
of the neck; the third indented with brown; the fourth barred with whitish, de- 
creasing in amount from the outer feather, which is marked from the base to the 
fifth, where it is confined to the tips; the two middle feathers above like the back, 
and barred throughout with dusky; beneath rather pure-white, the sides and under 
tail coverts of a lighter shade of brown than the back; a white streak over the eye. 

Length, five and fifty one-hundredths inches; wing, two and eight one-hundredths 
inches; tail, two inches. 

Hob. North America from Atlantic to Pacific, north to Greenland. REIN- 

HARDT. 



THE LONG-BILLED MARSH WREN. 193 

THIS interesting and not generally well-known little bird 
is a summer inhabitant of New England. Although 
not uncommon in Massachusetts and the other two southern 
States, it seldom ventures north of the first State, where it 
is confined to the neighborhood of the salt-water marshes. 
It makes its appearance about the middle of May ; and its 
presence is soon made known by its lively, chattering song, 
and grotesque dodgings among the reeds and tall grass in 
which it makes its home. I cannot refrain from giving the 
exceedingly interesting account of its habits, &c., by Wilson. 
He says, 

" The Marsh Wren arrives in Pennsylvania about the middle of 
May, or as soon as the reeds and a species of nymphea, usually 
called splatter-docks, which grow in great luxuriance along the tide- 
water of our rivers, are sufficiently high to shelter it. To such 
places it almost wholly limits its excursions, seldom venturing far 
from the river. Its food consists of flying insects and their larvae, 
and a species of green grasshopper that inhabits the reeds. As to its 
notes, it would be mere burlesque to call them by the name of song. 
Standing on the reedy borders of the Schuylkill or Delaware, in the 
month of June, you hear a low crackling sound, somewhat similar 
to that produced by air-bubbles forcing their way through mud or 
boggy ground when trod upon. This is the song of the Marsh 
Wren : but as, among the human race, it is not given to one man 
to excel in every thing, and yet each perhaps has something pecu- 
liarly his own ; so, among birds, we find a like distribution of talents 
and peculiarities. The little bird now before us, if deficient and 
contemptible in singing, excels in the art of design, and constructs 
a nest which, in durability, warmth, and convenience, is scarcely 
inferior to one, and far superior to many, of its more musical breth- 
ren. This is formed outwardly of wet rushes mixed with mud, 
well intertwined, and fashioned into the form of a cocoanut. A 
small hole is left two-thirds up for entrance, the upper edge of 
which projects like a pent-house over the lower to prevent the 
admission of rain. The inside is lined with fine soft grass, and 
sometimes feathers ; and the outside, when hardened by the sun, 
resists every kind of weather. This nest is generally suspended 

13 



194 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

among the reeds, above the reach of the highest tides, and is tied 
so fast to every part of the surrounding reeds as to bid defiance to 
the winds and the waves. The eggs are usually six, of a dark-fawn 
color, and very small. The young leave the nest about the 20th of 
June, and they generally have a second brood in the same season." 

I am unable to add any thing of value to this description. 
Several nests in my collection, from various localities in 
New England and elsewhere, agree with the above descrip- 
tion of nest. They are formed of reeds and grasses twined 
strongly together in a bulky fabric ; and the entrance, a 
small round hole, is on one side (facing the south always, 
I believe). The cavity is deep, and lined with soft grasses 
and feathers. The eggs are of a mahogany-color, with fine 
dots covering the entire surface. These dots are darker than 
the ground-color, and so fine as to be hardly visible. A great 
number of eggs in my collection vary from .60 by .48 to .56 
by .42 inch in dimensions. 

CISTOTHORUS STELLARIS. Cabanis. 
The Short-billed Marsh Wren. 

Cistothorus stettaris, Cabanis. Mus. Hein. (1851), 77. Type. 

Troglodytes brevirostris, Nuttall. Trans. Amer. Acad. Arts and Sc., New Ser., I. 
(1833) 98, with figure (quoted in Manual, though date of volume is subsequent to 
1832). Ib., Man., I. (1832) 436. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 427; V. (1839) 469. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill very short, scarcely half the length of the head ; wing and tail about equal ; 
hinder part of the crown and the scapular and interscapular region of the back and 
rump almost black, streaked with white ; tail dusky, the feathers barred throughout 
with brown (the color grayish on the under surface); beneath white; the sides, upper 
part of the breast, and under tail coverts reddish-brown; upper parts, with the excep- 
tions mentioned, reddish -brown. 

Length, four and fifty one-hundredths inches; wing, one and seventy-five one- 
hundredths inch ; tail, one and seventy-five one-hundredths inch. 

Hob. Eastern United States to the Loup fork of Platte. 

Like the preceding species, this bird is limited to the 
southern districts of New England ; Massachusetts being its 
northern limit. It makes its first appearance about the 
middle of May, sometimes a little earlier. The nest is built 



TROGLODYTES. 195 

about the last week in May : it is constructed of grasses and 
sedges, and is pensile, or rather suspended in tall grass in 
fresh-water meadows, which is woven into the body of the 
fabric. I have never noticed any mud in the materials, and 
doubt if any is used. The entrance is on the side ; it is a 
small hole, just under the greatest bulge of the nest : the 
whole fabric is lined with soft down from flying-seeds, and 
sometimes a few feathers. The eggs are sometimes eight or 
nine in number, usually about six : their color is pure-white, 
and the shell is extremely thin and brittle. The dimensions 
vary from .57 by .44 to .50 by .40 inch. But one brood is 
reared in New England. 

The habits of this bird are not so well known as those of 
the preceding, as it is a much more shy bird, and always 
avoids the presence of man. When its nest is approached, 
it hovers near the intruder, chattering and scolding in a 
violent manner. It is hardly ever seen in the neighborhood 
of the salt water, and seems to be found only in the mead- 
ows in the vicinity of fresh water : its food consists princi- 
pally of small insects, and spiders, which it is almost 
constantly employed in capturing. Its song is short, and 
consists of a repetition of the syllables, 'che, 'chet, de-de-de- 
de-de. This is uttered when the bird is perched on a low 
bush, or tuft of grass. A peculiarity of this bird, and also 
of the preceding species, is its habit of building a number of 
nests in the same season : it is believed by many persons, 
that this is done to secure protection ; because, when a 
person searches for the nest occupied by the female, the 
male always decoys the intruder to the neighborhood of one 
of these empty ones. 

TROGLODYTES, VIEILLOT. 

Troglodytes, VIEILLOT, Ois. Am. Sept., II. (1807) 52. (Type T. cedon.) 
The characters of this section will be found sufficiently indicated in the synopsis 
of the genera on a preceding page. It comes nearest to Cistoihorus, but is distin- 
guished by weaker feet and much smaller hind claw, which, instead of being equal 
to or longer than the remaining portion of the toe, is decidedly shorter. 



196 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

TROGLODYTES .EDON. Vieillot. 
The House "Wren. 

Troglodytes cedon, Vieillot. Ois. Am. Sept., II. (1807) 52. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. 
(1831)427; V. (1839)470. 

Sylvia domestica, Wilson. Am. Orn., I. (1808) 129. 
Troglodytes fulvus, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 422. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Tail and wings about equal; bill shorter than the head; above reddish-brown, 
darker towards the head, brighter on the rump; the feathers everywhere, except on 
the head and neck, barred with dusky; obscurely so on the back, and still less 
on the rump; all the tail feathers barred from the base; the contrast more vivid on 
the exterior ones ; beneath pale fulvous-white, tinged with light-brownish across the 
breast ; the posterior parts rather dark-brown, obscurely banded ; under tail coverts 
whitish, with dusky bars ; an indistinct line over the eye, eyelids, and loral region, 
whitish; cheeks brown, streaked with whitish. 

Length, four and ninety one-hundredths inches ; wing, two and eight one-hun- 
dredths inches; tail, two inches. 

Hob. Eastern United States to the Missouri, or to the high central plains. 

The bill of this species, even from the extreme base, is shorter than the head. 
The wing is very nearly equal to the tail, and reaches over its basal fourth. The 
tail is moderately graduated, the lateral feather about .32 of an inch shorter than the 
middle. The outstretched feet reach about to the end of the tail. 

There are a few whitish spots on the wing coverts. 

This interesting and well-known little bird is very gen- 
erally distributed throughout New England. It arrives from 
the South as early as the first week in May, and soon appears 

about its old haunts in the gar- 
den and orchard. The famili- 
arity of this species with man 
is well known ; and comfortable 
quarters are provided for its 
reception, oftentimes in the 
piazza of a dwelling-house, or 
in the casement of a window. 
This little bird is rather quar- 
relsome, and often drives from 
its home the Blue-bird and Martin, occupying the prepared 
nest for its own domicile. When building a nest of its own, 
it selects a hole in a tree, or post in a fence, and fills the 
whole cavity with sticks and twigs : this mass is hollowed 




THE WINTER WREN. 197 

in the centre, and lined with fine grasses, feathers, wool, and 
other soft materials. The eggs are usually six in number, 
sometimes eight, and I have known as many as ten being 
found in one nest : their color is a pale-reddish flesh-color, 
covered with fine dots or sprinkling of a darker color. 
Dimensions vary from .62 by .50 to .59 by .48 inch. Occa- 
sionally, two broods are reared in the season; but, as a 
general thing, one brood only. The wrens are extremely 
beneficial in the garden and orchard : they destroy immense 
numbers of insects and their larva?, and are, in consequence 
of their sociable habits and pleasant dispositions, great favor- 
ites. It is hardly necessary to say a good word in their 
favor, as they are well appreciated and protected. 

As with many other birds, this species, although very 
generally distributed, is not, by any means, regularly spread 
through these States. It may be quite abundant in one 
town ; and in another, perhaps five miles off, not an indi- 
vidual is to be seen. In Cambridge, Mass., it is one of the 
most abundant of birds ; but, in Newton or Dorchester, it is 
comparatively rare. I cannot account for this irregularity, 
and have never heard a plausible or satisfactory reason for 
it given. Some species of insects, which are favorites with 
it for food, may possibly be found less abundantly in some 
localities than in others ; but I am unable to say if this is 
the case, since I do not know of any particular insect which 
this bird prefers. Numbers that I have examined, con- 
tained in their stomachs spiders in abundance ; but what 
species they were, or what were their peculiar localities, I 
am ignorant. 

TROGLODYTES HYEMALIS. Vieillot. 
The Winter Wren. 

Sylvia troglodytes, Wilson. Am. On., I. (1808) 139. 

Troglodytes hyemalis, Vieillot. Nouv. Diet., XXXIV. (1819) 514. Aud. Orn. 
Biog., IV. (1838)430. 

Troglodytes JEuropceus, Bonaparte. Obs. Wils. (1825), No. 137. Nutt Man., I. 
(1832) 427. 



198 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill very straight, slender, and conical ; shorter than the head ; tail considerably 
shorter than the wings, which reach to its middle; upper parts reddish-brown, 
becoming brighter to the rump and tail ; everywhere, except on the head and upper 
part of the back, with transverse bars of dusky and of lighter ; scapulars and wing 
coverts with spots of white; beneath pale reddish-brown, barred on the posterior 
half of the body with dusky and whitish, and spotted with white more anteriorly; 
outer web of primaries similarly spotted with pale brownish-white; an indistinct 
pale line over the eye. 

Length, about four inches ; wing, one and sixty-six one-hundredths inch ; tail, 
one and twenty-six one-hundredths inch. 

Hob. North America generally. 

This bird is quite abundant in the three northern New- 
England States, and, as a winter visitor, is not uncommon 
in the others. Wilson gives the following account of its 
habits : 

" This little stranger visits us from the north in the month of 
October, sometimes remaining with us all the winter, and is always 
observed, early in spring, on his route back to his breeding-place. 
In size, color, song, and manners, he approaches nearer to the 
European Wren (M. troglodytes) than any other species we have. 
During his residence here, he frequents the projecting banks of 
creeks, old roots, decayed logs, small bushes, and rushes, near 
watery places : he even approaches the farm-house, rambles about 
the wood-pile, creeping among the interstices like a mouse. With 
tail erect, which is his constant habit, mounted on some projecting 
point or pinnacle, he sings with great animation. Even in the 
yards, gardens, and outhouses of the city, he appears familiar, and 
quite at home. In short, he possesses almost all the habits of the 
European species. He is, however, migratory, which may be 
owing to the superior coldness of our continent. Never having 
met with the nest and eggs, I am unable to say how nearly they 
approximate to those of the former." 

I know nothing of the breeding habits, nest, or eggs of 
this species. It has, while in its. summer home, one of the 
most beautiful warbling songs that I ever heard. 



THE WARBLERS. 199 



FAMILY SYLVICOLID^E. THE WARBLERS. 

Primaries nine, the first quill nearly as long as the second or third; tarsi dis- 
tinctly scutellate the whole length anteriorly ; bill conical, slender, or depressed, 
usually half the length of head, more or less bristled or notched ; nostrils oval or 
rounded; lateral toes nearly or quite equal, and shorter than the middle; the basal 
joint of the middle free nearly to its base externally, united for about half inter- 
nally. 

This family is well marked by its scutellate tarsi in front, the absence of any 
spurious or short first primary, and the rather weak, slender, conical, or depressed, 
sometimes decurved, bill. The base of the bill, with the nostrils, is not covered in 
any genera by setae, as in Parus, Alauda, &c. In many respects, there is a close 
relationship to some Fringittidce ; and there are some forms, such as the Tanagridce, 
which it is difficult to assign to the one family rather than to the other. The chief 
difference, however, is to be found in the longer, slenderer, and less abruptly conical 
bill of the Tanagers. 

The following synopsis will serve to point out the sub-families of the Sylvi- 
colldce: 

MOTACILLJN^E. Bill slender; culmen slightly concave at base; legs long; 
claws but little curved ; hind toe considerably longer than the middle one ; its claw 
much longer (twice) than the middle claw; all the claws but slightly curved ; ter- 
tials elongated, much longer than the secondaries. 

SYLVICOLIN/E. Bill rather slender, conical or depressed; culmen straight or 
convex ; hind toe shorter than the middle ; the claws all much curved ; hind claw 
not conspicuously longer than the middle one; when the hind toe is lengthened, it 
is usually in the digit, not the claw ; tertials generally not longer than the second- 
aries. 

TANAGRIN^E. Bill very stout, conical, as high as broad, or considerably 
broader than high ; tarsi short, not exceeding the hind toe ; claws much curved, the 
hinder scarcely larger than the middle anterior. 

Sub-Family MOTACILLIN.E. The Wagtails. 
ANTHUS, BECHSTEIN. 

Anthus, BECHSTEIN, Gemein. Naturg. Deutschl., 1802 (Agassiz). (Type Alavda 
spinoletta.) 

Bill slender, much attenuated, and distinctly notched; a few short bristles at the 
base; culmen concave at the base; tarsi quite distinctly scutellate, longer than 
the middle toe, inner lateral toe the longer; hind toe rather shorter than the tarsus, 
but longer than the middle toe, owing to the long, attenuated, and moderately 
curved hind claw, which is considerably more than half the total length of the toe; 
tail rather long, emarginate; wing very long, considerably longer than the length- 
ened tail, reaching to its middle; the first primary nearly equal to the longest; the 
tertials almost as long as the primaries. 



200 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

ANTHUS LUDOVICIANUS. Licht. 
The Tit-lark. 

Alauda Ludovidana, Graelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 793. 

Anthus Ludovicianus, Licht. Verz. (1823), 37, No. 421. Aud. Syn. (1839), 94. 
Alauda rufa, Wilson. Am. Orn., V. (1812) 89. 

Anthus spinoletta, Audubon. Orn. Biog., I. (1832) 408, V. (1839), 449. Nutt. 
Man., I. (1832) 450. 

Anthus pipiens, Audubon. Orn. Biog., I. (1832) 408, V. (1839) 449. 

DESCRIPTION. 

(Female, in spring.) Above olive-brown, each feather slightly darker towards 
the central portion; beneath pale dull-buff, or yellowish -brown, with a maxillary 
series of dark-brown spots and streaks across the breast and along sides; ring 
round the eye, and superciliary stripe yellowish ; central tail feathers like the back, 
others dark blackish-brown, the external one white, except at the base within, a 
white spot at the end of the second ; primaries edged with whitish, other quills with 
pale-brownish. 

Length, six and fifty one-hundredths inches; wing, three and forty-five one- 
hundredths inches ; tail, two and ninety-five one-hundredths inches. 

Hob. North America generally. Greenland (Reinhardt). Accidental in Eu- 
rope. 

THIS bird is a not uncommon fall and spring visitor in 
New England; and, in the southern parts of these 
States, in mild seasons, it remains through the entire winter. 
It is most frequently found in the neighborhood of the sea- 
coast or its large marshes, and in large tracts of level, dry, 
weedy pastures and fields. 

While with us, it flies in loose, detached flocks, in a jerk- 
ing, irregular sort of flight, uttering occasionally its feeble, 
lisping queet, queet. It seems always busily employed, 
either on the beach, in gathering the small shell-fish and 
animalcules thrown up by the tide, or, in pastures and 
stubble-fields, in gleaning the seeds of weeds and grasses : 
it also feeds upon spiders and such insects as it is able to 
find in the dead grass and weeds. 

As this species breeds in the most northern parts of the 
continent, I am unable to give any account of its breeding 
habits ; and, having no egg in my collection, I can give 
no description of it here. Nuttall says the " nest is built 
in the fissures of cliffs, is composed of dry grass and a 



THE BLACK AND WHITE CREEPER. 201 

little moss, and lined with finer blades of the former and a 
few long hairs. The eggs are four or five in number, of 
a sullied-white color, and covered with small brown spots, 
collected chiefly towards the larger end." 



Sub-Family SYLVICOLIN^E. The Wood-warblers. 
MNIOTILTA, VIEILLOT. 

Mniotilta, VIEILLOT, Analyse, 1816 (Agassiz). 

General form sylvicoline; bill rather long, compressed, shorter than the head, 
with very short rictal bristles and a shallow notch; wings considerably longer than 
the tail, which is slightly rounded; first quill shorter than second and third; tarsi 
rather short ; toes long, middle one equal to the tarsus ; hind toe nearly as long, the 
claw considerably shorter than its digit. Color white streaked with black. 

This genus differs from other Sylvicolines in the elongation of the toes, especially 
the hinder one, by means of which the species is enabl-ed to move up and down the 
trunks of trees, like the true Creepers. But one species is recognized as North 
American, although Nuttall describes a second. 

MNIOTILTA VARIA. Vieittot. 
The Black and White Creeper, 

Motacilla varia, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 333. 

Mniotilta varia. Vieillot. Analyse (1016). lb., Galerie Ois., I. (1834) 276. Aud. 
Syn. (1839), 71. Ib , Birds Am., II. (1841) 105. 

Sylvia varia, Bonaparte. Syn. (1828), 81. Nutt. Man , I. (1832) 384. 
Certhia maculata, Wilson. Am. Orn., III. (1811) 22. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill with the upper mandible considerably decurved, the lower straight ; general 
color of the male black, the feathers broadly edged with white ; the head all round 
black, with a median stripe in the crown and neck above, a superciliary and a max- 
illary one of white; middle of belly, two conspicuous bands on the wings, outer 
edsres of tertials and inner of all the wing and tail feathers, and a spot on the inner 
webs of the outer two tail feathers, white; rump and upper tail coverts black, 
edged externally with white; female similar; the under parts white, obsoletely 
streaked with black on the sides and under tail coverts. 

Length, five inches; wing, two and eighty-five one-hundredths inches; tail, two 
and twenty-five one-hundredths inches. 

Hab. Eastern North America to Missouri River, south to Guatemala. 

This is a rather common summer inhabitant of all New 
England. It arrives from the South before the 20th of 



202 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

April, and sometimes is seen by the first week in that 
month. In its habits, it resembles both the Creepers and 
Warblers ; moving about the bodies and limbs of trees with 
the ease of the former, and gleaning amongst the foliage the 
insect hosts like the latter. I have sometimes seen it seize 
a flying insect while on the wing, although this must have 
been a departure from its general habits. 

The song of the male during the mating season is a sort 
of lisping rendition of the syllables wMchee, whechee, 
whechee, whechee, uttered at first loud, and gradually weak- 
ening to a subdued note, like cheet. At other times, it has 
only a faint chirp or chink, which is uttered by both sexes. 
About the 10th of May, after the birds have paired, they 
commence building the nest : this, Audubon says, in Louis- 
iana " is usually placed in some small hole in a tree, and 
is composed of mosses in a dry state, and lined with cottony 
substances." In New England, it is almost always built, or 
rather placed, on the ground ; the situation is chosen usually 
beneath an overhanging point of rock, or beneath a fallen 
trunk of a tree : it is made of mosses, straw, leaves, and 
other soft materials, and is lined with cotton from ferns, 
soft grass, or hair. The eggs are laid by the middle of 
May. They are usually four or five in number : their color 
is white, with a slight cream tinge ; and they are spotted 
irregularly with fine dots and confluent blotches of reddish- 
brown, thickest near the largest end of the egg. Dimen- 
sions of four eggs found in a nest in Reading, Mass. : .66 
by .54 inch, .66 by .54 inch, .65 by .54 inch, .65 by .54 
inch. Two broods are occasionally reared by this species in 
southern New England. 

Probably the greater number breed in more northern 
localities ; for it is much more common in the spring and 
fall than in summer. By the 10th of September, they move 
on their southern migration ; and, after the 15th or 20th of 
that month, none are to be seen in New England. 



THE BLUE YELLOW-BACKED WARBLER. 203 

PARULA, BONAPARTE. 

Panda, BONAPARTE, Geog. and Comp. List, 1838. (Type Parus Americans.) 
In the species of this genus, the bill is conical and acute ; the culmen very gently 
curved from the base ; the commissure slightly concave, the notch when visible is 
further from the tip than in Dendroica, but usually is either obsolete or entirely 
wanting; bristles very short; the tarsi are longer than the middle toe; the tail is 
nearly even, and considerably shorter than the wing. 

PARULA AMERICANA. Bonaparte. 
The Blue Yellow-backed Warbler. 

Parus Americanus, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1758) 190. 

Sylvia Americana. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1832) 78. 

Parula Americana, Bonaparte. List (1838). Tb., Consp. (1850), 310. 

Sylvia pusilla, Wilson. Am. Orn., IV. (1811) 17. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Above blue, the middle of the back with a patch of yellowish-green ; beneath 
yellow anteriorly, white behind; a reddish-brown tinge across the breast; lores and 
space round the eye dusky; a small white spot on either eyelid; sides of. head 
and neck like the crown; two conspicuous white bands on the wings; outer two tail 
feathers with a conspicuous spot of white ; female similar, with less brown on the 
breast. 

Length, four and seventy-five one-hundredths inches; wing, two and thirty-four 
one-hundredths inches; tail, one and ninety one-hundredths inch. 

Hob. Eastern North America to the Missouri, south to Guatemala. 

This species, I am inclined to think, is rather common 
in all of New England ; and it undoubtedly breeds more 
or less abundantly in each of these States. It arrives from 
the South about the middle of May, sometimes a little ear- 
lier. The birds, on their arrival, seem to be mated; for 
they are almost always seen in pairs, often two males with 
one female. Their habits are very similar to those of the 
Titmice, and they are equally at home in the high foliage of 
trees and in the low thickets and shrubbery. When travel- 
ling through the trees, they run nimbly both across and 
along the branches, sometimes hanging head downwards, 
sometimes fluttering at the extremity of a small twig: they 
are very nervous and active, and are almost continually 
employed in catching caterpillars and insects, of which 
their food consists. While thus engaged, they emit, occa- 



204 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

sionally, a feeble note like the syllables cheweech, cheweech, 
cheweech, uttered at first low, and rapidly increasing in 
volume. When passing through the forests of Maine and 
New Hampshire, I have seen numbers of these birds, par- 
ticularly in the neighborhood of swamps, flying from the 
tops of the huge hemlocks, and seizing the small lace- 
winged flies (ephemerides) that are abundant in those 
regions in May and June. I also noticed that they fed 
largely upon the small caterpillars (geometridce) ; and I saw 
them occasionally descend to the surface of a lake or river, 
and seize small spiders that were struggling in the water. 
The habits of this bird have caused it to be classed in many 
different ways. Linna3us and others placed it in the genus 
Parus, Latham and many others called it Sylvia, some 
have named it Motacilla, and Stephens named it Thryo- 
thorus. It, however, belongs properly among the Warblers ; 
and the position given it as above seems' its most natural 
one. About the first of June, the birds commence build- 
ing their nest : this is placed in a fork near the end of a 
branch of a tree, about twenty feet from the ground. It is 
usually constructed of the long, gray Spanish moss that 
is so plentiful in the States of Maine, New Hampshire, and 
Vermont. A beautiful specimen in my collection, found in 
Maine by John Krider of Philadelphia, who kindly pre- 
sented it to me, is of this description, and one of the most 
curious specimens of bird architecture : the long hairs of 
the moss a*re woven and twined together in a large mass, on 
one side of which is the entrance to the nest, a mere hole 
left in the moss ; the lining is nothing but the same mate- 
rial, only of a finer quality. There is another nest of this 
description in the collection of the Museum of Comparative 
Zoology in Cambridge, which was also found in Maine. The 
eggs are usually four in number, and they are laid about 
the first week in June. Their color is white, with a very 
slight creamy tint, and covered more or less thickly with 
spots and confluent blotches of brownish-red and obscure- 



THE MARYLAND YELLOW-THROAT. 205 

lilac, thickest at the large end. Two eggs in my collection 
are of the following measurements : .62 by .48 inch, and .63 
by .46 inch. 

GEOTHLYPIS, CABANIS. 

Geothlypis, CABANIS, Wiegmann's Archiv. (1847), I. 316, 349. lb., Schomburgk'a 
Reise Guiana (1848). 

Bill sylvicoline, rather depressed, and distinctly notched; rictal bristles very- 
short or wanting; wings short, rounded, scarcely longer than the tail; the first quill 
shorter than the fourth; tail long, much rounded or graduated; legs stout; tarsi 
elongated as the head; olive-green above, belly yellow; tail feathers immaculate; 
legs yellow. 

GEOTHLTPIS TEICHAS. Cabanis. 
The Maryland Yellow-throat. 

Turdus trichas, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 293. 

Sylvia trichas, Audubon. Orn. Biog., I. (1832) 120; V. (1838) 463. 

Geothlypis trichas, Cabanis. Mus. Hein. (1850), 16. 

Sylvia Marilandica, Wilson. Am. Orn., I. (1808) 88. 

Trichas roscoe, Nuttall. Man., I. (2d ed., 1840) 457. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Upper parts olive-green, tinged with brown towards the middle of the crown ; 
chin, throat, and breast as far as the middle of the body, with the under tail coverts, 
bright-yellow; belly dull whitish-buff; sides of body strongly tinged with light 
olive-brown ; under coverts glossed with the same ; a band of black on the fore- 
head (about twenty one-hundredths of an inch wide in the middle), passing back- 
ward so as to cover the cheek and ear coverts, and extending a little above the eye ; 
this band bordered behind by a suffusion of hoary-ash, forming a distinct line above 
the eye, and widening behind the ear coverts into a larger patch, with a yellow 
tinge. In winter dress, and in the female, without the black mask, the forehead 
tinged with brown, the yellow of the throat less extended, the eyelids whitish, and 
an indistinct superciliary line yellowish. 

Length of male, five and fifty one-hundredths inches ; wing, two and forty one- 
hundredths inches; tail, two and twenty one-hundredths inches. 

This bird is a common inhabitant of all the New-England 
States. It arrives from the South about the second week in 
May, sometimes earlier, and soon commences building. 
The nest is usually placed on the ground, although often in 
thickets of briers and bushes. It is constructed of leaves 
and grasses, and is lined with fine grasses and hairs. It is 
often built over at the top, with the entrance through a hole 
in the side. The whole makes a bulky affair, almost imper- 



206 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

vious to water. 1 The eggs are laid about the last week in 
May or first week in June. They are variable in size and 
markings, but are usually five in number. To illustrate 
the difference in size and markings, I will describe five eggs 
found in a nest in Milton, Mass. : No. 1 is creamy-white in 
color, with numerous spots of dark-brown and obscure spots 
of lilac ; these markings are thinly scattered over the eggs, 
but are quite thick at the larger end : dimensions, .70 by 
.52 inch. No. 2 has the same ground-color, but the mark- 
ings consist of numerous spots and confluent blotches 
of light-brown and lilac at the large end of the egg : dimen- 
sions, .70 by .56 inch. No. 3 is pure-white, with thinly 
scattered spots of brown and black running like a ring, 
around the larger end of the egg ; dimensions, .74 by .50 
inch. No. 4 is of a pure-white color, with thinly scattered 
spots of light-brown around the larger end : dimensions, 
.66 by .52 inch. No. 5 of the same color, size, and mark- 
ings as No. 4. Other eggs of this species in my collection 
exhibit other markings from spots and blotches of lilac and 
brown at the larger end to thinly scattered dots of reddish 
over the entire surface ; and one specimen has numerous 
irregular lines in a circle around the larger end of the egg. 
This species rears two broods in the season in southern 
New England. I have found nests often as late as the 
middle of July. The habits of the Maryland Yellow-throat 
are well known. He is first noticed in the swampy thickets, 
darting in and out through the tangled shrubbery. Soon 
he makes his appearance in the flower-garden and orchard, 
where he may be seen at almost all times through the breed- 
ing season, busily engaged searching for his insect food ; 
occasionally pausing to carol his pretty song, whe-tit-te-tee, 
whe-tit-te-tee, then darting away for a discovered insect, then 
caressing his mate, or flying to his nest with food for their 
young. 

1 A nest sent me from Delaware is constructed of grasses, which are woven into 
a loose fabric, quite different from northern specimens. 



THE MOURNING WARBLER. 207 

Iii the woods, this species is more often found in low 
thickets in or near wet, swampy localities, and is very sel- 
dom seen in high, dry, heavily wooded countries. It seems 
to prefer the neighborhood of human habitations for its 
home, and its genial disposition and beneficial habits have 
established it as a great favorite with the farmers. 

As soon as the last brood of young leaves the nest, the 
old birds become silent ; and, by the middle of September, 
the whole family leave for the South. 

GEOTHLTPIS PHILADELPHIA. Baird. 
The Mourning "Warbler. 

Sylvia Philadelphia, Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 101. Aud. Orn. Biog., V. 
(1839) 78. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 404. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Wings but little longer than the tail, reaching but little beyond its base ; head 
and neck all round, with throat and fore part of breast, ash-gray, paler beneath; the 
feathers of the chin, throat, and fore breast in reality black, but with narrow ashy 
margins, more or less concealing the black, except on the breast; lores and region 
round the eye dusky, without any trace of a pale ring ; upper parts and sides of the 
body clear olive-green ; the under parts bright-yellow ; tail feathers uniform olive ; 
first primary, witli the outer half of the outer web, nearly white. Female, with the 
gray of the crown glossed with olive ; the chin and throat paler centrally, and tinged 
with fulvous; a dull whitish ring round the eye. 

Length, five and fifty one-hundredths inches ; wing, two and forty-five one-hun- 
dredths inches ; tail, two and twenty-five one-hundredths inches. 

This bird is very rarely found in New England. It has 
been taken in all these States, but in such small numbers 
that it can hardly be called one of our birds. Mr. Allen 
shot two ; I have taken but one ; and Mr. Verrill gives one 
or two instances of its being taken in Maine. The specimen 
that I captured had all the motions and habits of the Mary- 
land Yellow-throat; and I neglected to shoot it for some 
time, supposing it to be the female of that bird. Its note 
was a simple chirp, with a warbling termination like the 
syllables chirpchreee, chirpchreee, uttered in a soft, pensive 
tone. Of its breeding habits, nest, and eggs, I am ignorant. 



208 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



OPORORNIS, BAIRD. 

Bill sylvicoline, rather compressed ; distinctly notched at tip ; rictal bristles very 
much reduced ; wings elongated, pointed, much longer than the tail ; the first quill 
nearly or quite the longest; tail very slightly rounded; tail feathers acuminate, 
pointed ; the under coverts reaching to within less than half an inch of their tip ; 
tarsi elongated, longer than the head; claws large, the hinder one as long as its digit, 
and longer than the lateral toes; above olive-green, beneath yellow; tail and wings 
immaculate ; legs yellow. 

OPORORNIS AGILIS. Baird. 
The Connecticut Warbler. 

Sylvia agllis, Wilson. Am. Orn., V. (1812) 64. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 227. 

Sylvicola agilis, Orn. Biog., II. (1841) 71. 

Trichas agilis, Nuttall. Man., I. (2d ed., 1840) 403. 

Trichas tephrocotis, Nuttall. Man., I. (2d ed., 1840) 462. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Upper parts and sides of the body uniform olive-green, very slightly tinged with 
ash on the crown; sides of the head ash. tinged with dusky beneath the eye (entire 
head sometimes ash); chin and throat grayish-ash, gradually becoming darker to 
the upper part ot the breast, where it becomes tinged with dark -ash ; sides of the 
neck, breast, and body olive, like the back; rest of under parts light-yellow; a 
broad, continuous white ring round the eye; wings and tail feathers olive (especially 
the latter), without any trace of bars or spots ; bill brown above ; feet vellow. 

Length, six inches ; wing, three ; tail, two and twenty-five one-hundredths. 

This is another very rare bird in New England, and I 
have never met with a specimen that was taken north of 
Massachusetts. In West Roxbury, of this State, in a large 
tract of pine forest, two or three specimens have been taken 
within as many years. So far as I can learn, this species 
has all the habits and motions of the two preceding. It 
has no song, but utters the note queet often, and in a 
sprightly tone, as it searches among the shrubbery for its 
favorite food of spiders and small caterpillars. 

ICTERIA, VIEILLOT. 

Icteria, VIEILLOT, Ois. Am. Sept. I., (1790) 85. 

Bill shorter than the head ; broad at the base, but rapidly becoming compressed 
or much higher than broad, with the ridge elevated and sharp from the very base 
of the bill; the upper outline much curved throughout; the commissure less curved, 



THE YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT. 209 

but strongly concave; the gonys nearly straight, the upper edge of the lower jaw as 
convex as the commissure is concave; no notch in the bill, and the rictal bristles 
small ; tarsi longer than the toes, without scutellae, except faint indications on the 
inner side; lateral toes about equal, shorter than the hinder; wings about equal to 
the tail, rounded; the first quill longer than the secondaries; tail graduated, above 
olive, beneath yellow; abdomen, eyelids, maxillary patch, and line to the bill, 
white. 

ICTEEIA VIRIDIS. Bonaparte. 
The Yellow-breasted Chat. 

Mmdcapa viridis, Gmelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 936. 

Jcteria tiridis, Bonaparte. Obs. Wilson (1826), No. 163. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 
289. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 223; V. 433. 

Pipra polyglotta, Wilson. Am. Orn., I. (1808) 90. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Third and fourth quills longest, second and fifth little shorter, first nearly equal 
to the sixth; tail graduated; upper parts uniform olive-green; under parts, including 
the inside of wing, gamboge-yellow as far as nearly half-way from the point of the 
bill to the tip of the tail ; rest of under parts white, tinged with brown on the sides ; 
the outer side of the tibia plumbeous; a slight tinge of orange across rtie breast; 
forehead and sides of the head ash, the lores and region below the eye blackish ; 
a white stripe from the nostrils over the eye and involving the upper eyelid; a patch 
on the lower lid, and a short stripe from the side of the lower mandible, and running 
to a point opposite the hinder border of the eye, white; bill black; feet brown. 
Female like the male, but smaller; the markings- indistinct ; the lower mandible not 
pure-black. 

Length, seven and forty one-hundredths inches; wing, three and twenty-five 
one-hundredths ; tail, three and thirty one-hundredths inches. 

Massachusetts seems to be the northern limit of this 
bird's habitat in New England ; and, even in this State, it is 
a very rare species. Every season, for the last three years, a ' 
pair has nested near Lynn, in this State ; and Mr. Allen 
says, that they are sometimes seen, in the breeding season, 
near Springfield. I have never met with the bird alive, and 
can give no account of its habits from my own observation. 
Nuttall's description is as follows : 

" The males, as in many other migrating birds, who are not 
continually paired, arrive several days before the females. As 
soon as our bird has chosen his retreat, which is commonly in some 
thorny or viny thicket, where he can obtain concealment, he becomes 
jealous of his assumed rights, and resents the least intrusion, scold- 
ing all who approach in a variety of odd and uncouth tones, very 

14 



210 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

difficult to describe or imitate, except by a whistling ; in which case 
the bird may be made to approach, but seldom within sight. His 
responses on such occasions are constant and rapid, expressive of 
anger and anxiety ; and, still unseen, his voice shifts from place to 
place amidst the thicket, like the haunting of a fairy. Some of 
these notes resemble the whistling of the wings of a flying duck, 
at first loud and rapid, then sinking till they seem to end in single 
notes. A succession of other tones are now heard, some like the 
barking of young puppies, with a variety of hollow, guttural, un- 
common sounds, frequently repeated, and terminated occasionally 
by something like the mewing of a cat, but hoarser ; a tone, to 
which all our Vireos, particularly the young, have frequent recur- 
rence. All these notes are uttered with vehemence, and with such 
strange and various modulations as to appear near or distant, like 
the manoeuvres of ventriloquism. In mild weather also, when the 
moon shines, this gabbling, with exuberance of life and emotion, is 
heard nearly throughout the night, as if the performer were dis- 
puting with the echoes of his own voice. 

" About the middle of May, soon after their arrival, the icterias 
begin to build, fixing the nest commonly in a bramble-bush, in an 
interlaced thicket, a vine, or small cedar, four or five feet from the 
ground. The outside is usually composed of dry leaves, or thin 
strips of grape-vine bark, and with root-fibres and dry, slender 
blades of grass. The eggs are about four, pale flesh-colored, spotted 
all over with brown or dull-red. The young are hatched in the 
short period of twelve days, and leave the nest about the second 
week in June." 

Four eggs in my collection exhibit the following dimen- 
sions : .71 by .60 inch, .70 by .60 inch, .68 by .59 inch, .67 
by .58 inch. 

The food of this bird consists of those small insects and 
spiders that are found in the thick shrubbery of brier patches, 
and on the ground among the fallen leaves. It also occa- 
sionally captures flying insects in the manner of the Vireos ; 
and this fact has caused it, more than its peculiarities of 
form, to be classed by some authors with those birds. 

By the first week in September, none are seen in New 



THE WORM-EATING WARBLER. 211 

England ; they having left for the tropical countries of South 
America, where they spend the winter. 

HELMITHERUS, RAFINESQUE. 

Helmitherus, RAFINESQUE, Journal de Physique, LXXXVIII. (1819) 417. (Type 
Motacilla vermivora. ) 

Bill large and stout, compressed, almost tanagrine ; nearly or quite as long as the 
head; culmen very slightly curved; gonys straight; no notch in the bill; rictal 
bristles wanting; tarsi short, but little longer, if any, than the middle toe; tail 
considerably shorter than the wings, rather rounded; wings rather long, the first 
quill a little shorter than the second and third. 

HELMITHERUS VEBMIVORUS. Bonaparte. 
The Worm-eating Warbler. 

f Motacilla vermivora, Gmelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 951. 

Sylvia vermivora, Wilson. Am. Orn., III. (1811) 74. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1832) 
177. 

Sylvia (Dacnis) vermivora, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 409. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill nearly as long as the head ; upper parts generally rather clear olive-green ; 
head with four black stripes and three brownish-yellow ones, namely, a black one 
on each side of the crown, and one from behind the eye (extending, in fact, a little 
anterior to it), a broader median yellow one on the crown, and a superciliary from 
the bill; under parts pale brownish-yellow, tfnged with buff across the breast, and 
with olivaceous on the sides ; tail unspotted. Female nearly similar. 

Length, five and fifty one-hundredths inches ; wing, three ; tail, two and thirty- 
five one-hundredths inches. 

This species is so rarely seen in New England, that it can 
be regarded only as a straggler. I have never met with a 
specimen alive, although it has been taken in all these 
States. Audubon describes its habits as follows : 

"It is an inhabitant of the interior of the forests, and is seldom 
found on the borders of roads or in the fields. In spring, they 
move in pairs ; and, during their retrograde marches, in little 
groups, consisting each of a family, seven or eight in number: 
on which account I am inclined to believe that they raise only a 
single brood in the year. They are ever amongst the decayed 
branches of trees or other plants, such as are accidentally broken 
off by the wind, and are there seen searching for insects or cater- 



212 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

pillars. They also resort to the ground, and turn over the dried 
leaves in quest of the same kind of food. They are unsuspecting, 
and will suffer a person to approach within a few paces. When 
disturbed, they fly off to some place where withered leaves are 
seen. They have only a few weak notes, which do not deserve 
the name of song. Their industry, however, atones for this defect, 
as they are seen continually moving about, rustling among the 
leaves, and scarcely ever removing from one situation to another, 
until after they have made a full inspection of the part in which 
they have been employed." 

The nest of this active little bird is formed of singular 
materials, being composed externally of dried mosses and 
the green blossoms of hickories and chestmit-trees, while 
the interior is prettily lined with fine fibrous roots, the 
whole apparently rather small for the size of the occupants. 
About the middle of May, the female lays four or five eggs, 
which are cream-colored, with a few dark-red spots near the 
larger end, leaving a circular unspotted part at the ex- 
tremity. The nest is usually placed between two small 
twigs of a bush, not more than eight or nine feet from the 
ground, and sometimes only four or five. 

HELMINTHOPHAGA, CABANIS. 

Helminthophaga, CABANIS, Mus. Hein. (1850-51) 20. (Type Sylvia rufaapilla.) 
Bill elongated, conical, very acute ; the outlines very nearly straight, sometimes 
slightly decurved; no trace of notch at the tip; wings long and pointed; the first 
quill nearly or quite the longest; tail nearly even or slightly emarginate; short and 
rather slender; tarsi longer than the middle toe. 

HELMINTHOPHAGA PINUS. Baird. 
The Blue-winged Yellow Warbler. 

Certhia pinus, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 187. Gm., I. (1788) 478. 

Sylvia solitaria, Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 109. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1832) 102. 

Sylvia (Dacnis) solitaria, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 410. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Upper parts and cheeks olive-green, brightest on the rump ; the wings, tail, and 
upper tail coverts, in part, bluish-gray; an intensely black patch from the blue- 



THE BLUE-WINGED YELLOW WARBLER. 213 

black bill to the eye, continued a short distance behind it; crown, except behind, 
and the under parts generally, rich orange-yellow ; the inner wing and under tail 
coverts white; eyelids, and a short line above and behind the eye, brighter yellow; 
wing with two white bands; two outer tail feathers with most of the inner web] 
third one with a spot at the end white. Female and young similar, duller, with 
more olivaceous on the crown. 

Length, four and fifty one-hundredths inches; wing, two and forty one-hirn- 
dredths inches ; tail, two and ten one-hundredths inches. 

This species is also very rare in New England. In 1857, 
in the month of May, about the 12th or 15th, I found a 
small flock in a swamp in Dedham, Mass. They were 
actively employed in catching flying insects, and were so 
little mistrustful, that they permitted me to approach quite 
near, and observe their motions. I noticed nothing pecu- 
liar in them ; but they had all the activity and industry of 
the true arboreal Warblers. I know nothing of their breed- 
ing habits, and will give the description by Wilson of the 
nest and eggs. He says, 

" This bird has been mistaken for the Pine Creeper of Catesby. 
It is a very different species. It comes to us early in May from 
the South ; haunts thickets and shrubberies, searching the branches 
for insects ; is fond of visiting gardens, orchards, and willow-trees, 
of gleaning among blossoms and currant-bushes ; and is frequently 
found in very sequestered woods, where it generally builds its nest. 
Tliis is fixed in a thick bunch or tussock of long grass, sometimes 
sheltered by a brier bush. It is built in the form of an inverted 
cone or funnel, the bottom thickly bedded with dry beech-leaves, 
the sides formed of the dry bark of strong weeds lined within with 
fine, dry grass. These materials are not placed in the usual 
manner, circularly, but shelving downwards on all sides from the 
top ; the mouth being wide, the bottom very narrow, filled with 
leaves, and the eggs or young occupying the middle. The female 
lays five eggs, pure-white, with a few very faint dots of reddish 
near the great end ; the young appear the first week in June. I 
am not certain whether they raise a second brood in the same 
season. 

" I have met with several of these nests, always in a retired 
though open part of the woods, and very similar to each other." 



214 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

HELMINTHOPHAGA CHRYSOPTERA. Cabanis. 
The Golden-winged Warbler. 

Motadlla chryscptera, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 333. Gm. Syst. Nat., 
I. (1788) 971. 

Sylvia ch^ysqptera t Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 113. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Upper parts uniform bluish-gray ; the head above and a large patch on the wings 
vellow; a broad streak from the bill through and behind the eye, with the chin, 
throat, and forepart of the breast, black ; the external edge of the yellow crown con- 
tinuous with a broad patch on the side of the occiput above the auriculars, a broad 
maxillary stripe widening on the side of the neck, the under parts generally, with 
most of the inner webs of the outer three tail feathers white; the sides of the body 
pale ash-color. Female similar, but duller. 

Length, about five inches ; wing, two and sixty-five one-hundredths inches ; tail, 
two and twenty-five one-hundredths inches. 

" This handsomely marked species has hitherto been con- 
sidered a very rare bird in New England ; but it is less 
uncommon than it is supposed to be. The first one I saw 
was caught by a cat in a garden in West Newton, Mass. 
This was on May 16, 1861. That year, and since, I have 
found it occurring, in small numbers, from the 14th to the 
30th of May. The higher branches of trees, in the vicinity 
of swampy land, appear to be its favorite hunting-places. It 
may be seen seeking its food quite diligently along the 
branches and among the twigs, moving by short leaps, and 
stopping often to utter its drawling note, ' zee-zee-zee-zee ' or 
6 dee-dee-dee-dee.' 

" I once saw one, who, having seemingly finished his 
morning meal, was perched on the topmost twig of a tree, 
quite motionless, occasionally uttering the above song, 
which is easily recognized from that of any of our other 
Warblers. On my alarming him, he flew down among the 
undergrowth of young birches, and permitted me to approach 
quite near him : while watching his movements, I observed 
a Nashville Warbler alight on the same bush in which he 
was moving, when the Golden-wing immediately gave fight, 
and chased the intruder away. I have never observed the 



THE NASHVILLE WARBLER. 215 

species in autumn, and all the specimens that I have met 
with were males. It rears its young in the more northern 
regions probably ; and winters beyond the southern limits 
of the Union, in the West Indies, Central America, and 
even as far south as Bogota, S.A. This Warbler is not 
given in any of the lists of the birds of Maine or Vermont 
that I have seen ; but, as it occurs in such small numbers, it 
may have been overlooked, or perhaps is now becoming a 
regular visitor, during the spring migrations, in New Eng- 
land." Letter from Henry A. Purdie. 

HELMINTHOPHAGA RUFICAPILLA. Baird. 
The Nashville Warbler. 

Sylvia rujicfipilla, Wilson. Am. Orn., III. (1811) 120. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. 
(1832) 450. 

Sylvia rubricapilla, Wilson. Am. Orn., VI. (1812) 15. 
Sylvia (Dacnis) rubricapilla, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 412. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Head and neck above and on sides ash-gray, the crown with a patch of con- 
cealed dark brownish-orange hidden by ashy tips to the feathers; upper parts 
olive-green, brightest on the rump ; under parts generally, with the edge of the 
wing deep yellow ; the anal region paler; the sides tinged with olive ; a broad yel- 
lowish-white ring round the eye; the lores yellowish; no superciliary stripe; the 
inner edges of the tail feathers margined with dull-white. Female similar, but 
duller; the under parts paler; but little trace of the red of the crown. 

The bill is very acute; the wings long and pointed; the tail emarginate, not 
rounded. 

In autumn, the entire upper parts are olive-green, tinged with yellowish on the 
rump, sometimes with brownish on the head ; the patch on the crown more or less 
concealed ; the female has the white on the middle of the belly more extended. 

Length, four and sixty-five one-hundredths inches; wing, two and forty-two 
one-hundredths inches; tail, two and five one-hundredths inches. 

This species is quite common in the spring migrations, 
arriving about the first week in May ; but few breed in the 
southern districts of New England. Like some other spe- 
cies, it has grown much more abundant than it was a few 
years since, and is now quite common in localities where it 
was once a stranger. Its habits are like those of the other 
Warblers, eminently active and industrious: it seems always 



216 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

moving through the foliage, gleaning its insect food. Its 
note is a peculiar one, and easily recognized : it is best 
described or illustrated by the sound produced by striking 
two pebbles together with some force. 

About the 20th of June, after the birds have paired, they 
commence building the nest : this is usually placed on the 
ground, in a slight depression usually made by the birds 
themselves. A specimen before me containing three eggs, 
collected in Maiden, Mass., by Mr. H. A. Purdie, is con- 
structed of the leaves of the pine, which are very neatly 
woven into a compact, circular fabric, deeply hollowed, and 
lined with horsehair and fine leaves of the pine : the eggs 
are of a white color, with a very faint rosy tint, and covered 
irregularly with dots of reddish-brown and obscure lilac. 
Dimensions of the three specimens : .61 by .50 inch, .60 by 
48 inch, .58 by .48 inch. J. A. Allen, in his " Catalogue 
of the Birds of Springfield, Mass.," gives the folio wing- 
exceedingly interesting description of the nest and eggs 
of this bird : 

" I have found the nest of this species for two successive 
seasons as follows : May 31, 1862, containing four freshly laid eggs. 
The nest was placed on the ground, and sunken so that the top of 
the nest was level with the surface of the ground, and protected 
and completely concealed above by the dead grass and weeds of 
the previous year. It was composed of fine rootlets and dry grass, 
lined with fine, dry grass -and a few horsehairs, and covered 
exteriorly with a species of fine, green moss. The eggs were 
white, sprinkled with light reddish-brown specks, most thickly 
near the larger end. Longer diameter sixty, and the shorter fifty 
one-hundredths inch. The following year, June 5, 1863, I found 
another nest of this species, within three or four feet of where 
the one was discovered the previous year, and containing three 
eggs of this species, and one of the Cow Bunting, in all of which 
the embryos were far advanced. The nest, in every particular, 
was built and arranged like the one above described ; and the eggs 
must have been laid at just about the same season. In both cases, 
the female bird was secured, and the identity ascertained beyond 



THE TENNESSEE WARBLER. 217 

question. The locality of the nests was a mossy bank, at the edge 
of young woods, sloping southward, and covered with bushes and 
coarser plants." 

HELMINTHOPHAGA PEREGRINA. Cabanis. 
The Tennessee Warbler. 

Sylvia, peregrina, Wilson. Am. Orn., III. (1811) 83. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. 
(1834) 307. 

Sylvia (Dacnis) peregrina, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 412. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Top and sides, of the head and neck ash-gray ; rest of upper parts olive-green, 
brightest on the rump ; beneath dull-white, faintly tinged in places, especially on the 
sides, with yellowish-olive ; eyelids and a stripe over the eye whitish ; a dusky line 
from the eye to the bill ; outer tail feather with a white spot along the inner edge, 
near the tip. Female, with the ash of the head less conspicuous; the under parts 
more tinged with olive-yellow. 

Length, four and fifty one-hundredths inches ; wing, two and seventy-five one- 
hundredths ; tail, one and eighty -five one-hundredths inches. 

This bird is an extremely rare summer visitor in New 
England. Mr. Allen says he lias taken it on Sept. 19 and 
May 29 : this shows that it passes north to breed, but where 
it passes the season of incubation we are ignorant. The 
species itself seems to be a very small one ; and, as the mem- 
bers are so few, they may be easily overlooked in the 
forest through the whole season, particularly as they are 
quiet and retiring in habits. I think that, perhaps, the 
wilder sections of Maine and New Hampshire may give it a 
summer home, but of course can only judge from the above 
reasons. 

Of its nest and eggs I am ignorant ; and, as I have seen 
no description of them, I can give none here. 

SEIURUS, SWAINSON. 

Seiurus, SWAINSON, Zool. Jour., III. (1827) 171. (Sufficiently distinct from 
Sciurus. Type Motodlla aurocapilla, L.) 

Bill rather sylvicoline, compressed, with a distinct notch; gonys ascending; rictal 
bristles very short; wings moderate, about three-quarters of an inch longer than the 
tail; first quill scarcely shorter than the second; tail slightly rounded; feathers acu- 



218 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

minate; tarsi about as long as the skull, considerably exceeding the middle toe; 
under tail coverts reaching within about half an inch of the end of the tail ; color 
above olivaceous; beneath whitish, thickly streaked on the breast and sides: wings 
and tail immaculate. 



SEIURUS AUROCAPILLUS. Swainsm. 
The Oven-bird; Golden-crowned Thrush. 

Motadlla aurocapilla, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 334. Gm., I. (1788) 982. 
Turdus aurocapillus, Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 88. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. 
(1834)253; V. (1839)447. 

Turdus (Seiurus) aurocapillus, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 355. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Above uniform olive-green, with a tinge of yellow; crown with two narrow 
streaks of black from the bill, enclosing a median and much broader one of brownish- 
orange; beneath white; the breast, sides of the body, and a maxillary line streaked 
with black. The female, and young of the year, are not appreciably different. 

Length, six inches; wing, three inches; tail, two and forty one-hundredths 
inches. 

This beautiful and well-known bird is a common summer 
inhabitant of New England, breeding abundantly in all the 
States. It arrives from the South about the last week in 
April or first in May, and soon commences building. The 
birds are not often paired on their arrival, and many are 
the little quarrels and battles that occur between two or 
three males for the possession of one of the opposite sex. 
The birds both work diligently in the construction of the 
nest, which is a model of neatness and ingenuity. It is 
built on the ground in the woods, usually in a dry situation. 
The materials used are dry leaves and grasses : these are 
arranged compactly together, and built over at the top, the 
entrance being on the side, like an old-fashioned oven ; 
hence the familiar name of the " Oven-bird." The nest is 
usually placed in a slight hollow in the earth, scratched by 
the birds, and is lined with soft grasses and hairs. The 
eggs are from three to five in number, usually four. They 
are of a delicate creamy-white color, and spotted irregularly 
with different shades of reddish-brown ; and some specimens 
have a number of spots of obscure lilac-color. The mark- 



THE OVEN-BIRD. 219 

ings are usually thickest at the larger end of the egg, where 
they are often confluent, and cover the primary color. 
Dimensions of four specimens collected in a nest in West 
Roxbury, Mass. : .80 by .64 inch, .79 by .64 inch, .79 by 
.62 inch, .78 by .62 inch. A great number of specimens, 
collected in different localities of New England, show no 
great variations from these measurements. 

The habits of this bird are so well known that an ex- 
tended description here is scarcely needed. It is seldom 
found in any but the most retired and thickly wooded local- 
ities, and it generally prefers the neighborhood of a swamp 
for its home. Its song is a peculiar one, and easily recog- 
nized : it consists of the repeated utterance of the syllables, 
quicha, qmcha, qmcha, quicha^ qmcha, begun at first very 
low, and rapidly increasing in volume. I have heard this 
song, in the mating and incubating seasons, at all hours of 
the night : the bird seems, at that time, to ascend into the 
air to a considerable height, and utters its notes while hover- 
ing and slowly descending. I have noticed the same habit 
in the Maryland Yellow-throat and some other birds ; and 
suppose that it is owing to, and to show, his great affection 
for his mate, and to anxiety for the success of her labors. 

When on the ground, the Oven-bird runs with great 
rapidity, frequently jetting its tail and uttering its sharp 
alarm-note : if the nest is approached, the male throws 
himself in the way of the intruder, and endeavors to draw 
him from its vicinity, scolding all the time with the greatest 
vehemence. If the female is driven from her domicile, she 
suddenly flutters along the ground, her wings extended, 
counterfeiting lameness in a very natural and generally 
effective manner. 

This species, in consequence of its eminently terrestrial 
habits, often falls a victim to snakes and skunks. I have 
repeatedly found nests, and left them, in order that I might 
acquaint myself with the breeding peculiarities of the bird ; 
and in a day or two, on paying it a second visit, found 



220 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

that a skunk or other depredator had destroyed the whole 
family. 

The Oven-bird feeds principally upon small insects and 
smooth caterpillars, which it obtains usually on the ground, 
among the fallen leaves : whan berries are in season, it feeds 
occasionally upon them ; and it seems particularly fond of 
small spiders, with which I have sometimes found its stom- 
ach filled. About the 12th or 15th of September, after the 
young birds have become capable of providing for them- 
selves, the whole family leave for the South. 

SEI CJRUS NOVEBORACENSIS. Nuttall. 
The Water Thrush ; Water Wagtail. 

Motadlla Nmeboracemis, Gmelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 958. 

Turdus (Seiurus) Noveboracensis, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 353. 

Turdus aquations, Wilson. Am. Orn., III. (1811) 66. Aud. Orn. Biog., V. (1839) 
284. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill, from rictus, about the length of the skull ; above olive-brown, with a shade 
of green; beneath pale sulphur-yellow, brightest on the abdomen; region about the 
base of the lower mandible, and a superciliary line from the base of the bill to the 
nape, brownish-yellow; a dusky line from the bill through the eye; chin and throat 
finely spotted; all the remaining under parts and sides of the body, except the 
abdomen, and including the under tail coverts, conspicuously and thickly streaked 
with olivaceous-brown, almost black on the breast. 

Length, six and fifteen one-hundredths inches; wing, three and twelve one-hun- 
dredths inches ; tail, two and forty one-hundredths inches ; bill, from rictus, sixty- 
four one-hundredths of an inch. 

This bird is not very uncommon in New England in the 
spring and fall migrations (arriving about the 1st of May, 
and departing about the last week in September) ; and I 
have sometimes seen it in summer in Massachusetts. It 
undoubtedly breeds in the three northern of these States, 
and probably in them all. In its habits, it much resembles 
the preceding species ; but it is seldom found in any but a 
wet locality. 

Wilson says, " This bird is remarkable for its partiality 
to brooks, rivers, shores, ponds, and streams of water ; 



THE WATER-THRUSH. 221 

wading in the shallows in search of aquatic insects, wag- 
ging the tail almost continually, chattering as it flies ; and, 
in short, possesses many strong traits and habits of the 
Water Wagtail. It is also exceedingly shy, darting away 
on the least attempt to approach it, and uttering a sharp 
chip repeatedly, as if greatly alarmed." 

Although I have met with quite a number of these birds 
in their sylvan haunts, I have never heard them sing, and 
suspect that the following description of its song must 
belong to some other species : " They are eminently distin- 
guished by the loudness, sweetness, and expressive vivacity 
of their notes, which begin very high and clear, falling with 
an almost imperceptible gradation till they are scarcely 
articulated. At these times, the musician is perched on 
the middle branches of a tree over the brook or river bank, 
pouring out his charming melody, that may be distinctly 
heard for nearly half a mile. The voice of this little bird 
appeared to me so exquisitely sweet and expressive, that I 
was never tired of listening to it, while traversing the deep- 
shaded hollows of those cane-brakes where it usually 
resorts." 

Although I have looked repeatedly for the nest of this 
species, I have never been able to find one, and will be 
obliged to use the description of others. Mr. Yerrill says, 
in his paper on Maine birds, before referred to : 

"A nest found, June 8, 1861, in a dense cedar swamp, was built 
in an excavation in the side of a decayed, moss-covered log, so that 
the excavation itself formed an arch over the nest, instead of one 
made by the bird, as in the preceding species. The nest was con- 
structed of moss, and lined with fine roots. The five eggs were of 
a delicate flesh-color, spotted with light reddish-brown." 

Nuttall says of the nest : 

" It is placed usually at the foot of a tree, or by the side of a 
decayed log, and is formed of dry leaves, moss, and fine grass ; 
being lined with hair or the similar fibres of the Spanish moss 



222 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

(Tilandsid). The eggs are four or five, flesh-colored, with dark 
spots at the greater end." 

Several eggs in my collection agree with the above descrip- 
tion : they exhibit an average of .81 by .63 inch in dimen- 
sions. 

DENDROICA, GRAY. 

SyMcola, GRAY, Genera Birds (2d ed., 1841), 32. (Not of Humphreys or Swain- 
son.) 

Dendroica, GRAY, Genera Birds, Appendix (1842) 8. 

Bill conical, attenuated, depressed at the base, where it is, however, scarcely 
broader than high, compressed from the middle ; culmen straight for the basal half, 
then rather rapidly curving, the lower edge of upper mandible also concave ; gonys 
slightly convex and ascending; a distinct notch near the end of the bill; bristles, 
though short, generally quite distinct at the base of the bill ; tarsi long, decidedly 
longer than middle toe, which is longer than the hinder one; the claws rather small 
and much curved, the hind claw nearly as long as its digit ; the wings long and 
pointed; the second quill usually a very little longer than the first; the tail slightly 
rounded and emarginate. 

Colors. Tail always with a white spot; its ground-color never clear olive-green. 

DENDROICA VIRENS. Baird. 
The Black-throated Green Warbler. 

Motadlla virens, Gmelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 985. 

Sylvia virens, Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 127. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 376. 
And. Orn. Biog., IV. (1838) 70. 
Sylcicola virens. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Male, upper parts, exclusive of wing and tail, clear yellow olive-green, the 
feathers of the back with hidden streaks of black ; forehead and sides of head and 
neck, including a superciliary stripe, bright yellow; a dusky-olive line from the bill 
through the eye, and another below it ; chin, throat, and fore part of breast, extend- 
ing some distance along on the sides, continuous black ; rest of under parts white, 
tinged with yellow on the breast and flanks ; wings and tail feathers dark-brown, 
edged with bluish-gray; two white bands on the wing; the greater part of the three 
outer tail feathers white. Female, similar, but duller; the throat yellow; the black 
on breast much concealed by white edges ; the sides streaked with black. 

Length, five inches; wing, two and fifty-eight one-hundredths ; tail, two and 
thirty one-hundredths inches. 

This beautiful bird is a quite common species in Rhode 
Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, and is not rare in 
the other New-England States, in which, I have no doubt, it 



THE BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER. 223 

breeds, though not nearly so abundantly as in those first 
mentioned. It arrives from the South from about the 25th 
of April to the 1st of May, in Massachusetts. I have often 
seen this species, as late as the last week in May, busily 
engaged in destroying insects (of which its food, as also that 
of the other Warblers, consists), apparently without being 
mated, as several individuals of both sexes were together, 
seemingly in harmony, but without those little fondlings 
and attentions peculiar to mated birds. The nest is seldom 
built before the 10th of June in this latitude. It is con- 
structed of fine grasses, fibrous roots, fine strips of bark from 
the cedar, and the leaves of the pine : these are entwined 
together strongly and neatly, and the interior of the nest is 
lined with horsehair and fine moss. Nuttall, in describing 
the only nest of ijiis bird that he ever saw, says, 

" On the 8th of June, I was so fortunate as to find a nest of this 
species in a perfectly solitary situation, on the Blue Hills of Milton, 
Mass. The female was now sitting, and about to hatch. The nest 
was in a low, thick, and stunted Virginia juniper. When I ap- 
proached near the nest, the female stood motionless on its edge, and 
peeped down in such a manner that I imagined her to be a young 
bird: she then darted directly to the earth, and ran; but when, 
deceived, I sought her on the ground, she had very expertly disap- 
peared, and I now found the nest to contain four roundish eggs, 
white, inclining to flesh-color, variegated, more particularly at the 
great end, with pale, purplish points of various sizes, interspersed 
with other large spots of brown and blackish. The nest was formed 
of circularly entwined fine strips of the inner bark of the juniper, 
and the tough, fibrous bark of some other plant, then bedded with 
soft feathers of the Robin, and lined with a few horsehairs, and 
some slender tops of bent grass (Agrostis)." 

Early in June, 1863, a nest of this species was discovered 
in a grove of pines in West Roxbury : it was built in a 
small fork of a pine, about ten feet from the ground. The 
nest and its contents, four eggs, were removed ; but the 
birds remained in the neighborhood, and soon commenced 



224 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

building another nest in the same tree, but a few feet higher. 
In it the female laid three eggs, after which this nest and 
eggs were removed ; but soon after they built another nest 
in another pine, near the first : this nest was perhaps twenty- 
five feet from the ground ; in this, two eggs were laid, which 
were allowed to be hatched. One of these nests, with four 
eggs, is in my collection, and is already described above. 
The eggs are a pale, creamy-white color, with a very faint 
roseate tint, and one marked with coarse and fine spots of 
brown of different shades, and obscure spots of lilac. These 
markings are quite thick at the large end of the egg, in 
fact, are almost confluent into a sort of girdle. Their 
dimensions are .66 by .53 inch, .66 by .52 inch, .64 by .52 
inch, and .62 by .51 inch. 

This bird prefers the foliage of high trees to the lower 
shrubbery, and I have noticed that it is most usually found 
in or near the different pines. Its song is heard through 
the mating and breeding seasons, as the bird is actively 
moving about the trees searching for its food. 

This song is something like the syllables, ta-te-te-it-ta-tee, 
uttered in a plaintive tone ; the first syllable low, the second 
higher, the third and fourth quickly together and high, and 
the fifth and sixth a little slower and lower. Its song is 
peculiar, and cannot be confounded with that of any other 
Warbler in New England. 

By the 10th of September, none are to be found in Massa- 
chusetts ; and, by the 12th of that month, they have all left 
New England. 

DENDROICA CANADENSIS. Baird. 
The Black-throated Blue Warbler. 

Motadlla Canadensis, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 336. Gm., I. (1788) 991. 
Sylvia Canadensis, Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 115. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 398. 
Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 309. 

Sylvia pusilla, Wilson. Am. Orn , V. (1812) 100. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Above uniform continuous grayish-blue, including the outer edges of the quill 
and tail feathers ; a narrow frontal line, the entire sides of head and neck, chin and 



THE BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER. 225 

throat, lustrous black, this color extending in a broad lateral stripe to the tail; rest 
of under parts, including the axillary region, white; wings and tail black above, the 
former with a conspicuous white patch formed by the bases of all the primaries 
(except the first); the inner webs of the secondaries and tertials with similar patches 
towards the base and along the inner margin; all the tail feathers, except the inner- 
most, with a white patch on the inner web, near the end. 

Female, olive-green above and dull-yellow beneath ; sides of head dusky-olive, 
the eyelids and a superciliary stripe whitish ; traces of the white spot at the base of 
the primaries and of the tail. 

Length, five and fifty one-hundredths inches; wing, two and sixty one-hun- 
dredths; tail, two and twenty-five one-hundredths inches. 

This Warbler is not uncommon in the mountainous dis- 
tricts of Massachusetts, from the middle to the end of May ; 
and I found several specimens in the Green-Mountain coun- 
try as late as the 10th of June. This occurrence, together 
with the fact that it has been found, in the breeding season, 
on Mount Holyoke, in Mass., and along the ridges in the 
western part of this State, shows that it probably breeds, 
sometimes at least, in New England. 

The individuals that I saw were in tall oaks and chest- 
nuts, actively moving about through the foliage, snapping at 
flies and other insects : they often uttered a faint, drawling 
weesy, weesy, and occasionally a louder chirp or chink, like 
that of the Nashville Warbler. 

Being unacquainted with the nest and eggs, I give Audu- 
bon's description of them : 

" The nest is usually placed on the horizontal branch of a fir-tree, 
at a height of seven or eight feet from the ground. It is composed 
of slips of bark, mosses, and fibrous roots, and is lined with fine 
grass, on which is laid a warm bed of feathers. 

" The eggs, four or five in number, are of a rosy tint, and, like 
those of most other Sylvia, scantily sprinkled with reddish-brown 
at the larger end. Only one brood is raised in a season." 

About the first week in September, this species leaves 
New England on its southern migration. 

15 



226 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



DENDROICA CORONATA. Gray. 
The Yellow-rumped Warbler. 

MotadUa coronata, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 333. Gm. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 
974. 

Sylvia coronata, Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 138. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 361. 
Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 303. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Above bluish-ash, streaked with black ; under parts white ; the fore part of breast 
and the sides black, the feathers mostly edged with white; crown, rump, and sides 
of breast yellow; cheeks and lores black; the eyelids and a superciliary stripe, two 
bands on the wing, and spots on the outer three tail feathers, white. Female, of 
duller plumage, and browner above. 

Length, five and sixty-five one-hundredths inches ; wing, three inches ; tail, two 
and fifty one-hundreths inches. 

The Yellow-rumped or Golden-crowned Warbler is very 
abundant in all parts of New England as a spring and fall 
visitor. It arrives from the South about the 10th of May, 
and passes quickly northward. But few breed south of 

the northern parts of Maine, 
and probably not a great many 
pass the season of incubation 
there. When with us in the 
spring, they are found in the 
pastures, woods, orchards, and 
swamps, equally distributed, 
and evincing no partiality for 
any particular locality. They 
are then very active, and are constantly engaged in their 
search for insects. 

Their note is nothing but a kind of tchip and a tinkling 
tweeter, which they utter occasionally, both while on the 
wing and while perching. 

I have heard of no nest being found in either of the 
southern New-England States, have met with but one in 
Massachusetts, and have heard of but two or three others. 




THE BLACKBUBNIAN WARBLER. 227 

This nest was built in a low barbeny-bush in Waltliam : it 
was constructed of fine grasses and the down from ferns. 
These materials were carefully woven together into a neat 
fabric, which was lined with cottony substances and a few 
horsehairs. The eggs were three in number: these were 
of a creamy-white color, covered sparsely with spots and 
blotches of different shades of reddish-brown, thickest at 
the large end of the egg. Dimensions of the eggs : .68 by 
.50 inch, .6? by .50 inch, .66 by .49 inch. Audubon 
describes a nest and eggs sent him from Nova Scotia as 
follows : 

" It resembles that of the Sylvia cestiva of Latham, being firm, 
compact, the outer parts formed of silky fibres from different plants, 
attached to the twigs near it by means of glutinous matter, mixed 
with the inner bark of some tree unknown to me. Within this is 
a deep and warm bed of thistle-down, and the inner layer consists 
of feathers and the fine hair of small quadrupeds. 

" The eggs are rather large, of a light rosy tint, the shell thin 
and transparent : they are sparingly dotted with reddish-brown near 
the larger end, but in a circular manner, so that the extremity is 
unspotted." 

From the last of September until the middle of October, 
they become very plentiful again, and may be seen in large 
detached flocks in all the fields, orchards, and woods of the 
country : they are very abundant in stubble-fields ; and I 
have seen as many as fifty in a flock start at the report of 
my gun, when I have been quail-shooting. 



DENDEOICA BLACKBUENIJE Baird. 
The Blackburnian Warbler. 

Motadlla Bladclurnice, Gmelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 977. 
Sylvia Elackburnice, Wilson. Am. Orn., III. (1811) 67. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 379. 
Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 208; V. 73. 

Sylvia parus, Wilson. Am. Orn., V. (1812) 114. 
Hemlock Warbler, Authors. 



228 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Upper parts nearly uniform black, with a whitish scapular stripe and a large 
white patch in the middle of the wing coverts ; an oblong patch in the middle of 
the crown, and the entire side of the head and neck (including a superciliary stripe 
from the nostrils), the chin, throat, and forepart of the breast, bright orange-red; 
a black stripe from the commissure passing over the lower half of the eve, and 
including the ear coverts, with, however, an orange crescent in it, just below 
the eye, the extreme lid being black; rest of under parts white, strongly tinged 
with yellowish-orange on the breast and belly, and streaked with black on the sides; 
outer three tail feathers white, the shafts and tips dark-brown, the fourth and fifth 
spotted much with white, the other tail feathers and quills almost black. Female 
similar; the colors duller; the feathers of the upper parts with olivaceous edges. 

Length, five and fifty one-hundredths inches; wing, two and eighty -three one- 
hundredths inches; tail, two and twenty-five one-hundredths inches. 

This, the most beautiful of all our Warblers, is a rare 
summer inhabitant of all New England. Dr. Brewer found 
it breeding in the eastern part of Massachusetts. Verrill 
says it breeds in Maine ; Dr. Thompson says it breeds in 
Vermont; and I have seen it in New Hampshire in the 
season of incubation. It is a shy and mistrustful species, 
and is found only in the deepest woods, where it keeps in 
the thickest foliage of tall trees. Its nest and eggs I have 
not seen, and I am obliged to give the description by 
Audubon : " It [the nest] is composed externally of dif- 
ferent textures, and lined with silky fibres and thin delicate 
strips of fine bark, over which lay a thick bed of feathers 
and horsehair. The eggs are small, very conical towards 
the smaller end, pure- white, with a few spots of light-red 
towards the larger end. It was found in a small fork of a 
tree, five or six feet from the ground, near a brook." 

DENDROICA CASTANEA. Baird. 
The Bay-breasted Warbler. 

Sylvia castanea, Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 97. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 382. 
Aud. Orn. Biog., I. 858. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Male. Crown dark reddish-chestnut ; forehead and cheeks, including a space 
above the eye, black; a patch of buff-yellow behind the cheeks; rest of upper parts 
bluish-gray, streaked with black; the edges of the interscapulars tinged with 
yellowish, of the scapulars with olivaceous ; primaries and tail feathers edged ex- 



THE PINE-CREEPING WARBLER. 229 

ternally with bluish-gray, the extreme outer ones with white; the secondaries edged 
with olivaceous; two bands on the wing and the edges of the tertials white ; the 
under parts are whitish with a tinge of buff; the chin, throat, forepart of breast, and 
the sides, chestnut-brown, lighter than the crown; two outer tail feathers with a 
patch of white on the inner web near the end; the others edged internally with 
the same. 

Female with the upper parts olive, streaked throughout with black, and an oc- 
casional tinge of chestnut on the crown ; lower parts with traces of chestnut, but 
no stripes. 

Length of male, five inches; wing, three and five one-hundredths inches; tail, 
two and forty one-hundredths inches. 

This bird is extremely rare in New England. It has been 
taken in all these States, but not in any numbers. Mr. 
Allen took one on May 20 and May 25 ; and another was 
taken in July, 1862, by Mr. B. Horsford of Springfield. I 
have never seen one alive, and I can give no account of its 
habits from my own observation. Nuttall says, 

" It is an active insect-hunter, and keeps much towards the tops 
of the highest trees, where it darts about with great activity, and 
hangs from the twigs with fluttering wings." 

The species is a rare one in all parts of the New-England 
States, and very little is known regarding its habits. 



DENDROICA PINUS. Baird. 
The Pine-creeping Warbler. 

Sylvia pinus, Wilson. Am. Orn., III. (1811) 25. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 387. 
Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 232. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Upper parts nearly uniform and clear olive-green, the feathers of the crown with 
rather darker shafts ; under parts generally, except the middle of the belly behind, 
and under tail coverts (which are white), bright gamboge-yellow, with obsolete 
streaks of dusky on the sides of the breast and body ; sides of head and neck olive- 
green like the back, with a broad superciliary stripe; the eyelids and a spot beneath 
the eve very obscurely yellow ; wings and tail brown ; the feathers edged with dirty 
white, and two bands of the same across the .coverts ; inner web of the first tail 
feather with nearly the terminal half, of the second with nearly the terminal third, 
dull inconspicuous white. 

Length, five and fifty one-hundredths inches ; wing, three inches ; tail, two and 
forty one-hundredths inches. 



230 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

This species arrives from the South very early, often 
before the last snow-storm of the season, and remains in 
the deep swamps of hemlocks or pines until the weather 
opens. About the first week in May, the birds become 
scarce, and soon but very few can be found. A nest with 
two eggs, found in Woburn, Mass. ; and another nest with 
three eggs, from West Roxbury, in the same State, are all 
the specimens accessible to me at the present time. These 
nests were built in forks of pine-trees, about twenty feet 
from the ground. They are constructed of the bark of the 
cedar and leaves of the pine: these materials are intwined 
into a neat structure, which is warmly lined with mosses, 
and hairs of different animals. The eggs are of a bluish- 
white, with a slight roseate tint: this primary color is dotted 
with spots of two shades of brown and reddish, and some 
spots of purple. Dimensions vary from .69 by .50 inch to 
.67 by .51 inch. 

In the migrations, these birds associate in detached flocks : 
in the spring they are in company with the Red-poll 
Warblers ; and, in the fall, with the Yellow-rumps. 

They are, in the summer, almost always observed in the 
pine-groves, actively traversing the limbs and branches, 
sometimes with the movements of the Creepers and Titmice, 
sometimes with those of the Warblers, and , often flying 
from the foliage and seizing an insect, on the wing, like the 
Flycatchers. 

Their song is now somewhat similar to that of the Field 
Sparrow, or perhaps more like a mixture of that and the 
song of the Indigo-bird, if such can be imagined. It con- 
sists of the syllables tweet 'weet 'weet 'weet 'weet 'iveet, uttered 
at first slow and faint, but rapidly increasing in utterance 
and volume. Besides this, it has a sort of trilling note, 
like fre 're 're 're 're 're, uttered softly and listlessly. 

In the autumn, they add to their usual insect-food small 
berries and seeds : they are now nearly silent, having only 
a quick, sharp chirp. They are scattered through the fields 



THE CHESTNUT-SIDED WAKBLER. 231 

and woods, and seem to be as much on the ground as in 
the trees. They depart for the South by the 10th or 
15th of October. 



DENDROICA PENNSTLVANICA. Baird. 
The Chestnut-sided Warbler. 

Motacilla Pennsylvania, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 333. 

Sylvia Pennsylvania, Wilson. Am. Orn., I. (1808) 99. 

Sylvia icterocephala, Audubon. Orn. Biog., I. (1832) 506. Nutt. Man., I. 
(1832) 380. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Male. Upper parts streaked with black and pale bluish-gray, which becomes 
nearly white on the forepart of the back; the middle of the back glossed with 
greenish-yellow; the crown is continuous yellow, bordered by a frontal and super- 
ciliary band, and behind by a square spot of white; loral region black, sending off 
a line over the eye, and another below it; ear coverts and lower eyelid and entire 
under parts pure-white, a purplish-chestnut stripe starting on each side in a line 
with the black moustache, and extending back to the thighs ; wing and tail feathers 
dark-brown, edged with bluish-gray, except the secondaries and tertials, which are 
bordered with light yellowish-green; the shoulders with two greenish- white bands; 
three outer tail feathers with white patches near the end of the inner webs. 

Female like the male, except that the upper parts are yellowish-green, streaked 
with black ; the black moustache scarcely appreciable. 

Length, five inches; wing, two and fifty one-hundredths inches; tail, two and 
twenty one-hundredths inches. 

This bird is a rather common summer inhabitant of all 
New England, being most plentiful in Massachusetts and 
the States south, and gradually growing more rare as we 
advance north. It makes its appearance from the South 
about the first to the middle of May, according to latitude, 
and commences to build about the last week in this month 
or the first in June. The nest is usually built in a small 
fork of a low tree, often in bushes, but a few feet from the 
ground. It is constructed of thin strips of pliable bark and 
fine grasses : these materials are bent and intwined together, 
and over the .outside are pieces of caterpillar silk and cob- 
webs, which are plastered on, seemingly to give the fabric 
compactness and consistency. The nest is deeply hollowed, 
and lined with horsehairs and slender strips of the bark of 



232 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

the grape-vine. Nuttall describes a nest found in Acton, 
Mass., as follows : 

"It is fixed in the forked twigs of a hazel, about breast-high. 
The fabric is rather light and airy, being made externally of a few 
coarse blades and stalks of dead grass, then filled in with fine 
blades of the same ; the whole matted and tied with caterpillars' 
silk, and lined with very slender strips of brown bark and similar 
white-pine leaves." 

The nests which I have collected, and some I have before 
me, are of a different character from his description, being 
compactly and neatly made of bark from the cedar, and 
grasses, and lined with horsehair ; but I have no doubt that 
this species, like many others, varies in breeding habits in 
different localities. The eggs are three or four in number, 
and are laid about tbe first week in June. They are of a 
delicate creamy-white color, and marked at the great end 
with spots of brown, which are often confluent: tbe spots 
are of two colors, a reddish-brown and purplish-brown. 
The dimensions vary from .70 by .51 inch to .63 by .50 inch. 
But one brood is raised in the season in this latitude. 

This is another of those birds which seem to have become 
quite abundant within a few years. Wilson, Nuttall, and 
others speak of it as being a very rare species ; and it is now 
one of the most common of birds in localities where it was, 
a few years since, quite rare. It prefers a growth of low 
shrubs and scrub-oaks and birches to a forest of tall trees, 
and is seldom seen in the latter. 

Its note consists of the syllables 'che 'che ^ch ''cheea, 
repeated at short intervals : it has also, at times, a rattling 
cry something like the alarm-note of the Maryland Yellow- 
throat. 

The female has nothing but a sharp chirp, which she 
often emits in answer to the song of the male. When 
approached while on tbe nest, she sits quietly until tbe 
intruder is quite near. I once had a dog make a point 



PLATE II. 












/.v 






Fig. 1. Great-crested Flycatcher, Myiarchus crinitus. Cabanis. 

,, 2. Blue Yellow-backed VVarb'er, Panda Americana. Bonaparte. 

,, 3. Water Thrush, Seiurus Noveboracensis. Nuttall. 

,, 4. Black-throated Green Warbler, Denc/roira virens. Baird. 

,, 5. White-bellied Nuthatch. Sitta Carolmensis. Gmelin. 

,, 6. Red-bellied Nuthatch, Sitta Canar/ensis. Linnaeus. 

,, 7. White-throated Sparrow, Zonotrichia albicollis. Bonaparte. 

,, 8. Snow-bird, Junco liyemalis. Sclater. 

,, 9. Tree Sparrow, Spizellq monticola. Baird. 

,, 10. Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Guiraca ludoviciana. Swainson. 

,, 11. Orchard Oriole. Icterus spurius. Bonaparte. 

,, 12. Rusty Blackbird, Scolecophagusferrugineus. Swainson. 



THE BLACK-POLL WARBLER. 233 

at one while she was sitting on her nest, and she almost 
permitted me to touch her before she flew off. 

By the first week in September, the old birds and young, 
apparently in a group by themselves, leave for the South, 
and winter in Panama and the Bahamas. 



DENDROICA STRIATA. Saird. 
The Black-poll Warbler. 

Muscicapa striata, Forster. Philos. Trans., LXII. (1772) 383, 428. Gm. Syst. 
Nat., I. (1788) 930. 

Sylvia striata, Wilson. Am. Orn., IV. (1811) 40. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 383. 
Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 201. 

Sylvia autumnalis, Wilson. Am. Orn., III. (1811) 65. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1832) 
447. Nutt. Man., I. (1832), 390. (Female or young in autumn.) 

DESCRIPTION. 

Male. Crown, nape, and upper half of the head black ; the lower half, including 
the ear coverts, white, the separating line passing through the middle of the eye ; 
rest of upper parts grayish-ash, tinged with brown, and conspicuously streaked with 
black; wing and tail feathers brown, edged externally (except the inner tail feathers) 
with dull olive-green; two conspicuous bars of white on the wing coverts, the ter- 
tials edged with the same ; under parts white, with a narrow line on each side the 
throat from the chin to the sides of the neck, where it runs into a close patch of 
black streaks continued along the breast and sides to the root of the tail ; outer two 
tail feathers with an oblique patch on the inner web near the end, the others edged 
internally with white. 

Female similar, except that the upper parts are olivaceous, and, even on the 
crown, streaked with black; the white on the sides and across the breast tinged 
with yellowish ; a ring of the same round the eye, cut by a dusky line through it. 

Length of male, five and seventy-five one-hundredths inches ; wing, three inches ; 
tail, two and twenty-five one-hundredths inches. 

This bird, although very abundant in all parts of New 
England in the spring migrations, passes far to the north 
to breed ; but few remain in the States through the breed- 
ing season, and these in the most northern districts. It 
arrives from the South about the last week in May, and pro- 
ceeds leisurely on its journey, arriving at its destination 
about the second week in June. I have two nests in my 
collection, both found in the northern part of Maine: 
they were placed in low trees or saplings, and are con- 
structed of first a layer of twigs and grass, then the 



234 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

leaves of -the pine, and moss ; these materials are twined 
into a compact structure, somewhat bulky, and deeply 
hollowed, and lined with feathers of wild birds and hairs 
of different animals. A nest complement of four eggs in my 
collection, furnished by my friend, George A. Boardman, 
are of a grayish-white color, thickly marked with spots and 
blotches of two or three shades of brown and purple. 
Dimensions vary from .71 by .54 inch, to .66 by .50 inch. 
Audubon describes the only nest of this bird that he 
ever met with as follows : 

" It was placed about three feet from the ground, in the fork of 
a small branch, close to the main stem of a fir-tree. Its diameter 
internally was two inches, the depth one and a half: externally, it 
resembled the nest of a white-crowned sparrow, 'being formed of 
green and white moss and lichens, intermixed with coarse dried 
grass ; within this was a layer of bent grass, and the lining was of 
very dark-colored, dry moss, looking precisely like horsehair, 
arranged in a circular direction with great care. Lastly, there was 
a thick bed of large, soft feathers, some of which were from ducks, 
but most of them from willow-grouse." 

The same author describes the habits of this bird as 
follows : 

" You see it darting in all directions after insects, chasing them 
on the wing, and not unfrequently snapping, so as to emit the click- 
ing sound characteristic of the true Flycatcher. Its activity is 
pleasing ; but its notes have no title to be called a song. They are 
shrill, and resemble the noise made by striking two small pebbles 
together, more than any other sound I know." 

I cannot agree with Professor Baird, that the Autumnal 
Warbler of authors, and the young of the Bay-breasted, 
are identical, at least in New England ; but I am persuaded 
that the young of the present species is the Sylvia autumnalis. 
And it seems to me, that no other argument is needed to 
establish this beyond a doubt, than the fact, that the Bay- 
breasted Warbler is very rare, in all this section of the coun- 



THE BLACK-POLL WARBLER. 235 

try, in spring and summer; and that it should become 
exceedingly abundant in autumn is inconsistent with reason 
and nature. The description of the young of the Black-poll 
also agrees with that of the Autumnal Warbler, as do also 
its habits and characteristics. 

I will append Wilson's description of the habits of the 
Black-poll and Autumnal Warbler, and also their general 
description. He says of the Autumnal Warbler, 

" This plain little species regularly visits Pennsylvania .from the 
North, in the month of October, gleaning among the willow-leaves, 
but, what is singular, is rarely seen in spring. From the 1st to the 
loth of October, they may be seen in considerable numbers, almost 
every day, in gardens, particularly among the branches of the 
weeping-willow, and seem exceedingly industrious. They have 
some resemblance, in color, to the Pine-creeping Warbler, but do 
not run along the trunk like that bird, neither do they give a 
preference to the pines. They are also less. After the 1st of 
November, they are no longer to be found, unless the season be 
uncommonly mild. These birds doubtless pass through Pennsyl- 
vania, in spring, on their way to the North ; but either make' a very 
hasty journey, or frequent the tops of the tallest trees : for I have 
never yet met with one of them in that season, though in October 
I have seen more than a hundred in an afternoon's excursion. 

" Length, four inches and three-quarters ; breadth, eight inches ; 
whole upper parts olive-green, streaked on the back with dusky 
stripes ; tail coverts ash, tipped with olive ; tail black, edged with 
dull-white ; the three exterior feathers marked near the tip with 
white ; wings deep-dusky, edged with olive, and crossed with two 
bars of white ; primaries also tipped, and three secondaries next 
the body edged with white ; upper mandible dusky-brown ; lower, as 
well as the chin and breast, dull-yellow ; belly and vent white ; legs 
dusky-brown ; feet and claws yellow ; a pale-yellow ring surrounds 
the eye. The males of these birds often warble out some low but 
very sweet notes, while searching among the leaves in autumn." 

He says of the Black-poll Warbler, 
" This species has considerable affinity to the Flycatchers in its 
habits. It is chiefly confined to the woods, and, even there, to the 



236 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

tops of the tallest trees, where it is descried skipping from branch 
to branch in pursuit of winged insects. Its note is a single screep, 
scarcely audible from below. It arrives in Pennsylvania about the 
20th of April, and is first seen on the tops of the highest maples, 
darting about among the blossoms. As the woods thicken with 
leaves, it may be found pretty generally, being none 'of the least 
numerous of our summer birds. It is, however, most partial to 
woods in the immediate neighborhood of creeks, swamps, or mo- 
rasses, probably from the greater number of its favorite insects 
frequenting such places. It is also pretty generally diffused over 
the United States, having myself met with it in most quarters 
of the Union, though its nest has hitherto defied all my researches." 

He then says of the female Black-poll, 

" From its habit of keeping on the highest branches of trees, it 
probably builds in such situations, and its nest may long remain 
unknown to us. 

" Pennant, who describes this species, says that it inhabits, during 
summer, Newfoundland and New York, and is called in the last 
Sailor. This name, for which, however, no reason is given, must 
be very local ; as the bird itself is one of those silent, shy, and soli- 
tary individuals that seek the deep retreat of the forest, and are 
known to few or none but the naturalist. 

" Length of the female Black-cap five inches and a quarter, 
extent eight and a quarter; bill brownish-black; crown yellow- 
olive, streaked with black ; back the same, mixed with some pale- 
slate ; wings dusky-brown, edged with olive ; first and second wing 
coverts tipped with white ; tertials edged with yellowish-white ; 
tail coverts pale-gray ; tail dusky, forked, the two exterior feathers 
marked on their inner vanes with a spot of white ; round the eye 
is a whitish ring ; cheeks and sides of the breast tinged with yellow, 
and slightly spotted with black ; chin white, as are also the belly 
and vent ; legs and feet dirty-orange. 

" The young bird of the first season, and the female, as is usually 
the case, are very much alike in plumage. On their arrival, early 
in April, the black feathers on the crown are frequently seen coming 
out, intermixed with the former ash-colored ones. 

" This species has all the agility and many of the habits of the 
Flycatcher." 



THE YELLOW WARBLER. 237 

About the middle of October, sometimes not before the 
last of that month, the Black-poll Warbler leaves on its 
southern migration : at that time, it has, in New England 
certainly, all the characteristics and habits of the Autumnal 
Warbler described above; and, having examined numbers 
of specimens, I conclude, from the reasons expressed above, 
that the species are identical. 

DENDROICA .ESTIVA. Baird. 
The Yellow Warbler. 

Motacitta cestiva, Gmelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 996. 
Sylvia citrinella, Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 111. 
Sylvia childreni, Audubon. Orn. Biog., I. (1831) 180. 
Motacilla petechia, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 334. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill lead-color; head all round, and under parts generally, bright-yellow; rest of 
upper parts yellow-olivaceous, brightest on the rump; back with obsolete streaks 
of dusky reddish-brown ; fore breast and sides of the body streaked with brownish- 
red ; tail feathers bright-yellow ; the outer webs and tips, with the whole upper sur- 
faces of the innermost one, brown ; extreme outer edges of wing and tail feathers 
olivaceous, like the back; the middle and greater coverts and tertials edged with 
yellow, forming two bands on the wings. Female similar, with the crown olivaceous, 
like the back, and the streaks wanting on the back, and much restricted on the under 
parts ; tail with more brown. 

Length of male, five and twenty -five one-hundredths inches ; wing, two and sixty- 
six one-hundredths ; tail, two and twenty-five one-hundredths inches. 

This exceedingly abundant species is a summer resident, 
and breeds in all the New-England States. It arrives from 
the South about the last of April or first of May, and com- 
mences building about the 15th of the latter month. The 
nest is usually placed in a low bush, frequently the bar- 
berry. Occasionally, it is built in an alder or maple tree, 
seldom more than fifteen or twenty feet from the ground, 
although Mr. Nuttall gives instances of its being built in the 
forks of a sugar-maple-tree, fifty feet from the ground : this, 
however, is a very rare case. Nuttall's description of the 
nest is the best I have seen, and I give it entire: 

" The nest is extremely neat and durable ; the exterior is formed 
of layers of asclepias, or silk-weed lint, glutinously though slightly 



238 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

attached to the supporting twigs, mixed with some slender strips of 
fine bark and pine-leaves, and thickly bedded with the down of wil- 
lows, the nankeen wool of the Virginia cotton-grass (Eriophorum 
Virginicum), the down of fine stalks, the hair of the downy seeds 
of the button-wood (Platanus), or the papus of compound flowers, 
and then lined either with fine bent grass (Agrostis), or down, and 
horsehair, and rarely with a few accidental feathers." 

The eggs are usually four in number, sometimes five: 
they vary in color from creamy-white, with numerous spots 
and blotches of different shades of brown, to a grayish-white 
with a greenish tint, and marked with the same spots and 
blotches ; these markings are thickest at the larger end of 
the egg, where they are often confluent. Dimensions vary 
from .67 by .50 inch to .64 by .50 inch. The habits of tins 
bird are well known ; and its genial nature and confid- 
ing disposition have rendered it a great favorite with the 
farmer. 

DENDROICA MACULOSA. Baird, 
The Black and Yellow Warbler ; Magnolia Warbler. 

Motacilla maculosa, Gmelin. Syst., I. (1788) 984. 

Sylvia maculosa, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 370. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1831) 260; 
II. (1834) 145; V. (1839) 458. 

Sylvia magnolia, Wilson. Am. Orn., III. (1811) 63. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Male, in spring. Bill dark bluish-black, rather lighter beneath; tail dusky; 
top of head light grayish-blue ; front, lore, cheek, and a stripe under the eye, black, 
running into a large triangular patch on the back, between the wings, which is also 
black ; eyelids and a stripe from the eye along the head white ; upper tail coverts 
black, some of the feathers tipped with grayish; abdomen and lower tail coverts 
white ; rump and under parts, except as described, yellow ; lower throat, breast, and 
sides streaked with black, the streaks closer on the lower throat and fore breast; 
lesser wing coverts, and edges of the wing and tail, bluish-gray, the former spotted 
with black ; quills and tail almost black, the latter with a square patch of white on 
the inner webs of all the tail feathers (but the two inner), beyond the middle of the 
tail; two white bands across the wings (sometimes coalesced into one), formed by 
the small coverts and secondaries; part of the edge of the inner webs of the quills 
white; feathers margining the black patch on the back behind and on the sides 
tinged with greenish. 

Second and third quills longest, first shorter than fourth ; tail rounded, emarginate. 

Female, in spring. In general appearance like the male, but with the corre- 
sponding colors much duller; the black on the back reduced to a few large proxi- 



THE BLACK AND YELLOW WARBLER. 



239 



mate spots; the spots on the under parts much fewer; upper parts dirty-ash, tinged 
with greenish on the lower back; on the rump dull-yellow. 

Male, in autumn. Bill brown, lighter along the edges and base of lower man- 
dible; head and hind neck dirty-ash, tinged above with green; back greenish- 
yellow, obsoletely spotted with black; rump yellow; throat and breast yellow, 
obsoletely spotted with black, strongly tinged with light-ash on the lower throat ; 
eyelids dirty-white ; differs from the spring plumage in being without the black on 
the back, front, sides of the head and cheeks, and in a great degree on the under 
parts; much less white on the wing and side of the head; the colors generally 
also are duller. 

Female, in autumn. Similar, generally, to the male in fall. Back greenish- 
yellow, brighter on the rump; rest of upper parts deep-ash; lower parts yellow, 
obsoletely streaked with black, the light-ash on the lower throat decided; the 
white on the wings reduced to two narrow bands. There is a continuous white ring 
round the eye; bill light brown; basal part of lower mandible dirty-white; feet 
lighter brown. 

Specimens vary somewhat in the amount of black on the under parts. 

Length, five inches; wing, two and fifty one-hundredths ; tail, two and twenty-five 
one-hundredths inches. 

This beautiful bird is not uncommon in the migrations 
in the three southern New-England States, and is a summer 
resident in the others. It does not make its appearance 
before the 20th of May, and 
proceeds slowly in its travels. 
I found numbers in Northern 
Maine and New Hampshire as 
late as the 17th of June. They 
were industrious, and seemed to 
be, at that late date, but just 
mating. Hence I infer that they 
rear but one brood, and not until 
late in the season. 

The note of the male is very 
similar to that of the Chestnut 
sided Warbler ; and I was de- 
ceived by it into mistaking this 
for that species. It had the hab- upper flg yeilow WarWor _ 

itS Of that bird also, and Seemed Lower fig., Black and Yellow Warbler 

to prefer the low, swampy woods to the higher ones. 

Although I looked very carefully and diligently for the 
nest, I could not find it. From the fact that the birds were 




240 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

almost always in or near clearings or young growth, I judge 
that they nest in such localities. Mr. Hutchins informs us, 
that, in the Hudson's Bay country, the nest is built in wil- 
lows, and that it is constructed of grass and feathers : he 
also says that the female lays four eggs. I can find no 
other description of the nest or eggs. 

After the 25th of September, none are to be found in 
New England. 

DENDEOICA TIGRINA. Baird. 
The Cape-May Warbler. 

Mutadtta tigrina, Gmelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 985. 

Sylvia maritima, Wilson. Am. Orn., VI. (1812) 99. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 156. 
Aud. Orn. Biog., V. (1839) 156. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill very acute, conical, and decidedly curved ; bill and feet black ; upper part of 
head dull-black, some of the feathers faintly margined with light yellowish-brown; 
collar scarcely meeting behind ; rump and under parts generally rich-yellow ; throat, 
fore part of breast, and sides, streaked with black ; abdomen and lower tail coverts 
pale-yellow, brighter about the vent; ear coverts light reddish-chestnut ; back part of 
a yellow line from nostrils over the eye, of this same color ; chin and throat tinged 
also with it; a black line from commissure through the eye, and running into the 
chestnut of the ear coverts ; back, shoulder, edges of the wing and tail, yellowish- 
olive, the former spotted with dusky ; one row of small coverts, and outer bases of 
the secondary coverts, form a large patch of white, tinged with pale-yellow; tertials 
rather broadly edged with brownish-white ; quills and tail dark-brown, the three 
outer feathers of the latter largely marked with white on the inner web; edge of the 
outer web of the outer feathers white, more perceptible towards the base. 

Length, five and twenty-five one-hundredths inches; wing, two and eighty-four 
one-hundredths ; tail, two and fifteen one-hundredths inches. 

This bird is so exceedingly rare in New England, that it 
can be regarded as a straggler only. Of its habits I know 
nothing, and I can give no description of its nest or eggs. 



DENDROICA PALMAEUM. Baird. 
The Yellow Red-poll Warbler. 

Motacilla palmarum, Gmelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 951. 

Sylvia petechia, Wilson. Am. Orn., VI. (1812) 19. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 364. 
Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 259, 360. 



THE PRAIRIE WARBLER. 241 

DESCRIPTION. 

Head above chestnut-red; rest of upper parts brownish olive-gray; the feathers 
with darker centres, the color brightening on the rump, upper tail coverts, and outer 
margins of wing and tail feathers, to greenish-yellow ; a streak from nostrils over the 
eye, and under parts generally, including the tail coverts, bright-yellow; paler on 
the body; a maxillary line; breast and sides finely but rather obsoletely streaked 
with reddish-brown; cheeks brownish (in highest spring plumage, chestnut like the 
head); the eyelids and a spot under the eye olive-brown; lores dusky; a white spot 
on the inner web of the outer two tail feathers at the end. 

Length, five inches; wing, two and forty-two one-hundredths ; tail, two and 
twenty-five one-hundredths inches. 

This is one of the earliest of our spring visitors, arriving 
sometimes as early as the first week in April : it is quite 
abundant until the 25th of that month, when it moves on 
to its northern breeding-homes. While here, it prefers the 
neighborhood of a swampy thicket, and is seldom seen in 
high dry woods. It is, like the other Warblers, always 
actively employed in searching for insects, which it captures 
as often while on the wing as otherwise. Its note is a faint 
tinkle like that of the Golden-crested Wren. There are only 
a few that breed in New England. I have in my collection a 
nest and eggs collected in Northern Maine by Mr. George 
A. Boardman, of Calais. The nest was placed on the 
ground. It is constructed loosely, first of stalks of weeds 
and grasses : above these is placed a layer of fine roots and 
grass ; then are laid pieces of moss, caterpillars' silk, fine 
grasses, and hairs ; and the whole is deeply hollowed, and 
lined with fine roots and pine-leaves. Two eggs in the nest 
are of a delicate white, with a faint roseate tint : they are 
marked at the larger end with fine spots and blotches of 
reddish and brown. They are about the size of the eggs 
of the Blue Yellow-backed Warbler, being .61 by .50 inch 
and .62 by .51 inch. 

DENDROICA DISCOLOR. Baird. 
The Prairie Warbler. 

Sylvia discolor, Vieillot. Ois. Am. Sept., II. (1807) 37. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. 
(1831) 76. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 294. 

Sylvia minuta, Wilson. Am. Orn., III. (1811) 87. 

16 



242 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Above uniform olive-green; the middle of the back streaked with brownish-red. 
Under parts and sides of the head, including a broad superciliary line from the nos- 
trils to a little behind the eye, bright-yellow, brightest anteriorly; a well-defined 
narrow stripe from the commissure of the mouth through the eye, and another from 
the same point curving gently below it, also a series of streaks on each side of the 
body, extending from the throat to the flanks, black; quills and tail feathers brown, 
edged with white; the terminal half of the inner web of the first and second tail 
feathers white; two yellowish bands on the wings. Female similar, but duller; 
the dorsal streaks indistinct. 

Length, four and eighty-six one-hundredths inches ; wing, two and twenty-five 
one-hundredths ; tail, two and ten one-hundredths inches. 



This beautiful bird is not very common in any part of 
New England ; and it appears to be a rather rare species 
north of Massachusetts, which State seems to be its northern 
breeding limit. It makes its appearance about the first 
week in May, and commences building about the 20th of 
that month. I have been so fortunate as to find two nests 
in Norfolk County, and have had another nest and eggs sent 
me from Belmont, in this State : I have also known of sev- 
eral other nests being found, and judge that the species 
breeds not uncommonly in Massachusetts and the other two 
southern New-England States. These nests were all placed 
in low barberry bushes, in rocky localities. They are ex- 
ceedingly neat structures, the most so of any of our New- 
England Warblers' nests : they are constructed of various 
soft cottony substances, after the manner of the nest of the 
Yellow Warbler, and are lined with soft feathers and wool. 
The eggs are usually three in number. These are of a beau- 
tiful pearly-white color, with a slight roseate tint, and cov- 
ered irregularly with small spots of different shades of 
brown and lilac, thickest at the large end. Dimensions of 
three eggs collected in Belmont, Mass. : .64 by .52 inch, .63 
by .52 inch, .60 by .50 inch. The above-described nests 
were invariably placed in the fork of the bush in which 
they were built : the materials were the same, consisting of 
the down from different plants, cotton, wool, and other like 
substances. I find, on referring to Audubon, Wilson, and 



THE PRAIRIE WARBLER. 243 

others, considerable differences in the description of the 
nest, &c. Wilson's description is as follows : 

" The nest of this species is of very neat and delicate workman- 
ship, being pensile, and generally hung on the fork of a low bush 
or thicket. It is formed outwardly of green moss, intermixed with 
rotten bits of wood and caterpillars' silk : the inside is lined with 
extremely fine fibres of grape-vine bark ; and the whole would 
scarcely weigh a quarter of an ounce." 

Audubon says, 

" Its nest, which forms by far the most interesting part of its his- 
tory, is uncommonly small and delicate. Its eggs I have uniformly 
found to be four in number, and of a white color, with a few brown- 
ish spots near the larger end. The nest is sometimes attached to 
three or four blades of tall grass, or hangs between two small sprigs 
of a slender twig. At first sight, it seems to be formed like that of 
the Humming-bird; the external parts being composed of deli- 
cate gray lichens and other substances, and skins of black cater- 
pillars, and the interior finished with the finest fibres of dried 
vines." 

Nuttall says, in contradiction to these descriptions, 

" The nest was hardly distinguishable from that of the Summer 
Yellow-bird (Yellow Warbler), being fixed in a trifid branch (not 
pensile), and formed of strips of inner red-cedar bark and asclepias 
fibres, also with some caterpillar silk, and thickly lined with cud- 
weed down (Gnaphalium plantagineum), and slender tops of bent 
grass (Agrostis). The eggs, four or five, were white, rather sharp 
at the lesser end, marked with spots of lilac-purple, and others of 
two different shades of brown, rather numerous at the great end, 
where they appear most collated together in a circle." 

NuttalPs description of the nest is certainly the most 
correct, so far as shown in all the specimens that I have : 
probably, in different sections, the breeding habits of this 
bird are, like those of some others, subject to great varia- 
tions. 



244 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

Wilson says, in his description of the habits of these 
birds, 

"They seem to prefer these open plains and thinly wooded 
tracts, and have this singularity in their manners, that they are 
not easily alarmed, and search among the leaves the most leisurely 
of any of the tribe I have yet met with ; seeming to examine every 
blade of grass and every leaf ; uttering, at short intervals, a feeble 
chirr. I have observed one of these birds to sit on the lower 
branch of a tree for half an hour at a time, and allow me to come 
up nearly to the foot of the tree, without seeming to be in the least 
disturbed, or to discontinue the regularity of its occasional note. 
In activity, it is the reverse of the preceding species ; and is rather 
a scarce bird in the countries where I found it. Its food consists 
principally of small caterpillars and winged insects." 

In closing with the genus Dendroica, I give the remarks 
of J. A. Allen concerning the distribution of the different 
species at Springfield, Mass. : 

" Of the twenty-two species of Dendroica inhabiting the United 
States, thirteen have been found at Springfield, and one other 
(D. ccerulea) may occur as accidental or extremely rare. Four of 
them (D. virens, pinus, Pennsylvania, (Estiva) are known to breed 
here, and two others (D. Blackburnice, castanea) have been taken 
in the breeding season. None are permanent residents, and none 
are seen in the winter. The remaining five {D. coronata, striata, 
maculosa, tigrina, palmarum) are at present known merely as 
spring and autumn visitants. D. coronata is most abundant; 
striata nex^ so ; virens, Canadensis, maculosa, cestiva, and palma- 
rum are but little less common ; Blackburnia is more rare ; casta- 
nea and discolor are quite rare, while tigrina is extremely rare. 
The earliest to arrive are pinus and palmarum, commonly appearing 
early in April ; striata is rarely seen before May 30 : the others 
commonly arrive from May 5th to May 12th, and stragglers remain 
till June. D. coronata is decidedly gregarious in its migrations, 
and is everywhere about equally abundant. The others are usually 
seen in small parties, and keep pretty closely to the woods, except 
D. cestiva and palmarum, cestiva, being never found in the deep 
woods." 



THE HOODED WARBLER. 245 



MYIODIOCTES, AUDUBON. 

Myiodioctes, AUDUBON, Syn. (1839), 48. (Type Motacilla mitrata.) 
Bill depressed, Flycatcher like; broader than high at the base; gape with bristles 
nearly as long as the bill, which is distinctly notched at tip ; both outlines gently 
convex ; tarsi longer than the head, considerably exceeding the middle toe ; claws 
all considerably curved ; tail decidedly rounded or slightly graduated; the lateral 
feathers one-fifth of an inch shorter; wing very little longer than the tail; the first 
quill decidedly shorter than the fourth ; colors yellow. 



MYIODIOCTES MITRATUS. Audubon. 
The Hooded Warbler. 

Motacilla mitrata, Gmelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 977. 

Sylvia mitrata, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 373. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 68. 

Sylvania mitrata, Nuttall. Man., I. (2d ed., 1840) 333. 

Muscicapa cucullata, Wilson. Am. Orn., III. (1811) 101. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Male. Bill black ; feet pale-yellow ; head and neck all round, and fore part of 
the breast, black ; a broad patch on the forehead extending round on the entire 
cheeks and ear coverts, with the under parts, bright-yellow; upper parts and sides 
of the body olive-green ; greater portion of inner web of three outer tail feathers 
white. 

Female similar; the crown like the back; the forehead yellowish; the sides of 
the head yellow, tinged with olive on the lores and ear coverts. 

Length, five inches; wing, two and seventy-five one-hundredths ; tail, two and 
fifty-five one-hundredths inches. 

This bird is so extremely rare in New England, that it 
can be regarded only as a straggler. I have never seen 
one alive, and will have to give, from Audubon, a short 
description of its habits. He says, 

" The Hooded Flycatcher is one of the liveliest of its tribe, and 
is almost continually in motion. Fond of secluded places, it is 
equally to be met with in the thick cane-brakes of the high or low 
lands, or amid the rank weeds and tangled rushes of the lowest 
and most impenetrable swamps. You recognize it instantly, on 
seeing it ; for the peculiar graceful opening and closing of its broad 
tail distinguishes it at once, as it goes on gambolling from bush to 
bush, now in sight, now hidden from your eye, but constantly 
within hearing. 



246 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

" The nest of this species is always placed low, and is generally 
attached to the forks of small twigs. It is neatly and compactly 
formed of mosses, dried grasses, and fibrous roots, and is carefully 
lined with hair, and, not unfrequently, a few large feathers. The 
eggs are from four to six, of a dull-white, spotted with reddish- 
brown towards the larger end. The male and female sit by turns, 
and show extreme anxiety for the safety of their eggs or young." 



MYIODIOCTES PUSILLUS. Bonaparte. 
The Green Black-cap Flycatcher ; Wilson's Black-cap. 

Mitscicapa pusilla, Wilson. Am. Orn., III. (1811) 103. 
Sylvania pusilla, Nuttall. Man., I. (2d ed., 1840) 335. 
Sylvia Wilsonii, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 408. 
Muscicapa Wilsonii, Audubon. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 148. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Forehead, line over and around the eye and under parts generally bright-yellow ; 
upper part olive-green ; a square patch on the crown lustrous-black ; sides of body 
and cheeks tinged with olive; no white on wings or tail. Female similar; the 
black of the crown obscured by olive-green. 

Length, four and seventy-five one-hundredths inches ; wing, two and twenty- 
five one-hundredths ; tail, two and thirty one-hundredths inches. 

This bird is another rare species in New England. I 
have never seen one alive, and know nothing of its habits. 
Aububon, who met with a number of individuals, says of 
its habits : 

" It has all the habits of a true Flycatcher, feeding on small 
insects, which it catches entirely on the wing, snapping its bill with 
a smart clicking sound. It frequents the borders of the lakes, and 
such streams as are fringed with low bushes, from which it is seen 
every moment sallying forth, pursuing its insect prey for many 
yards at a time, and again throwing itself into its favorite thickets. 

" The nest is placed on the extremity of a small horizontal 
branch, among the thick foliage of dwarf firs, not more than from 
three to five feet from the ground, and in the centre of the thickets 
of these trees so common in Labrador. The materials of which it 
is composed are bits of dry moss and delicate pine twigs, aggluti- 
nated together and to the branches or leaves around it, and beneath 



THE CANADA FLYCATCHER. 247 

which it is suspended, with a lining of extremely fine and trans- 
parent fibres. The greatest diameter does not exceed three and a 
half inches, and the depth is not more than one and a half. The 
eggs are four, dull-white, sprinkled with reddish and brown dots 
towards the larger end, where the marks form a circle, leaving 
the extremity plain. The parents show much uneasiness at the 
approach of any intruder, skipping about and around among the 
twigs and in the air, snapping their bill, and uttering a plaintive 
note. They raise only one brood in the season. The young 
males show their black cap as soon as they are fully fledged, and 
before their departure to the South." 

This bird, according to Audubon, is not very rare in 
Maine, and it becomes more abundant the farther north we 
proceed. He found it in Labrador and all the immediate 
districts ; it reaching that country early in June, and re- 
turning southward by the middle of August. 



MYIODIOCTES CANADENSIS. Audubon. 
The Canada Flycatcher. 

Muscicapa Canadensis, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 327. Wil. Am. Orn., 
III. (1811) 100. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 17. 

Sylvia pardalina, Bonaparte. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 372. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Upper parts bluish-ash ; a ring round the eye, with a line running to the nos- 
trils, and the whole under part (except the tail coverts, which are white), bright- 
yellow ; centres of the feathers in the anterior half of the crown, the cheeks, con- 
tinuous with a line on the side of the neck to the breast, and a series of spots across 
the fore part of the breast, black; tail feathers unspotted. Female similar, with the 
black of the head and breast less distinct. In the young obsolete. 

Length, five and thirty-four one hundredths inches ; wing, two and sixty-seven 
one-hundredths ; tail, two and fifty one-hundredths inches. 

This beautiful species is a rather common spring and 
autumn visitor in all New England, and, in the northern 
sections of these States, is an inhabitant through the whole 
summer. It sometimes breeds in Massachusetts ; and I 
have no doubt, that, in a few years, it will be found to 
breed abundantly in this State, as it has increased in num- 



248 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

bers greatly within four or five years. It arrives from the 
South from about the 10th to the 25th of May. The birds 
seem to be mated on their arrival ; for I have noticed, that, 
if a male is seen, a female is almost always to be found in 
his immediate vicinity. 

About the first week in June, the nest is built. This is 
fixed in a fork of a low cedar or pine bush, very near the 
ground, and is constructed of pine leaves, fine roots and 
grasses, and a few hairs : it is loosely put together, and is 
lined with fine pieces of the same materials and lichens. 

The eggs are four in number. They are small and 
abruptly pointed : they are of a grayish- white color, with a 
slight roseate tint, and are marked with spots and fine 
blotches of lilac and brown, usually thickest near the larger 
end. The only nest and eggs that I have seen were of this 
description: they were found in Quincy, Mass., in an old 
pasture, partly grown up with bushes. 

The eggs were nearly of a uniform size and shape, and 
measured about .65 by .48 inch in dimensions. 

The habits of this species are so much like those of the 
preceding, that, if the Wilson's Black-cap were more com- 
mon, the two birds might be easily confounded. The flight 
of the present is rapid ; and all the motions of the bird, when 
it is pursuing insects, are those of the true Flycatchers. Its 
note is a shrill weechy, weechy, which is uttered at short 
intervals by the bird, both while on the wing and when 
perching. About the first week in September, it begins to 
grow abundant; and, by the 15th of that month, it has 
departed on its southern migration. 

SETOPHAGA, SWAINSON. 

Setophaga, SWAINSON, Zool. Jour., III. (Dec., 1827) 360. (Type Muscicapa ruti- 
cilla, Linnajus.) 

Bill depressed, broader than high; rictus with long bristles; wings rounded, 
equal to or shorter than the tail ; first quill shorter than the fourth ; tail long, some- 
what graduated, the outer feathers about twenty one-hundredths of an inch or more 
shorter; all the feathers unusually broad, and widened at the end; feet short; tarsus 



THE BED START. 



249 



shorter than the head; hind toe equal to the lateral; coloration embracing more or 
less of red in northern species. 

This genus differs from Myiodioctes chiefly in the longer, broader tail, and rather 
shorter tarsi and toes, the hinder especially; the bill is more muscicapine; the 
culmen nearly straight to the abruptly decurved and much notched tip; the gonys 
straight; in Myiodioctes the verticnl outlines are more convex; the gonys more 
ascending; the tip gently and but slightly decurved. 



SETOPHAGA EUTICILLA. Swainson. 
The Red Start. 

Muscicapa ruticilla, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat, I. (1766) 326. Wil. Am. Orn., I. 
(1808) 103. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1831) 202; V. (1839) 428. 
Sylvania ruticilla, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 291. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Male. Prevailing color black ; a central line on the breast, the abdomen, and 
under tail coverts, white; some feathers in the latter strongly tinged with dark- 
brown ; bases of all the quills, except the inner and outer, and basal half of all 
the tail feathers, except the middle one, a patch on each side of the breast, and the 
axillary region orange-red, of a vermilion shade on the breast. Female with the 
black replaced by olive-green above, by brownish-white beneath; the head tinged 
with ash; a grayish-white lore and ring round the eye; the red of the male 
replaced by yellow. 

Length, five and twenty-five one-hundredths inches; wing, two and fifty one- 
hundredths inches; tail, two and forty-five one-hundredths inches. 

This quite common species is a summer resident, and 
breeds in all the New-England States. It arrives from the 
South from about the first to the middle of May, accord- 
ing to latitude, and commences 
building about the first week 
in June. The nest is usually 
placed on a low limb of a 
small tree, often in a hori- 
zontal fork, seldom more than 
ten feet from the ground. It 
is constructed of strips of 
cedar bark, grape-vine bark, 
grasses, and fine weeds : these 
materials are adjusted neatly, and agglutinated by the bird's 
saliva into a compact structure, to the exterior of which 
are attached, or plastered on by the bird's saliva, fragments 




250 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

of soft lichens, caterpillars' silk, and down from the ferns. 
It is deeply hollowed, and lined with thin strips of grape-vine 
bark and cottony substances, and sometimes a few hairs or 
fibrous roots. Nuttall, in describing the nest, says " the 
lining is neither soft nor downy;" but Wilson and Audubon 
both assert to the contrary. I have examined a great num- 
ber of the nests, and have found them to agree with the 
foregoing description. The eggs are usually four in number. 
Their color is a beautiful creamy-white, which is covered, 
more or less thickly, with spots of reddish-brown and lilac. 
Average dimensions of eggs, about .63 by .50 inch. 

Perhaps the best description I can give of the habits of 
this bird is to say that they are a combination of those 
of the Flycatchers and Warblers ; for, like the former, it 
pursues flying insects in the air, and seizes them with a 
loud snapping of the bill, and, like the latter, gleans indus- 
triously for them among the foliage and branches of trees. 
The note of the Red Start is a shrill cheweea, which is 
uttered at intervals of perhaps a half or whole minute. 

I have not noticed that it prefers any particular locality ; 
but it seems to frequent the woods, pastures, and orchards 
in equal abundance : and I have known of a pair building, 
and rearing a brood, in a garden, within five rods of a house. 

About the 15th of September, the Red Start leaves for 
the South ; and, after the 20th of that month, none are to 
be seen in New England. 



Sub-Family TANAGRIN^E. The Tanagers. 
PYRANGA, VIEILLOT. 

Pyranga, VIEILLOT, Ois. Am. Sept., I. (1807) IV. /&., Analyse (1816), 32. 
Sclater, Pr. Zool. Soc. (1856), 123. 

Bill somewhat straight; sub-conical, cj'lindrical, notched at tip; culmen moder- 
ately curved; commissure with a median acute lobe; wings elongated; the four first 
primaries about equal ; tail moderate, slightly forked. Colors of the male chiefly 
scarlet, of the female yellowish. 



THE SCARLET TANAGER. 251 

PYRANGA RUBRA. VieiUot. 
The Scarlet Tanager. 

Tanagra rubra. Linn., I. (1766) 314. Wil. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 42. Aud. Orn. 
Biog., IV. (1838) 388. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill shorter than the head ; second quill longest ; first and third a little shorter ; 
tail moderately forked ; general color of male bright-carmine ; wings and tail velvet- 
black, the quills internally edged with white towards the base. Female olive-green 
above, yellowish beneath; wing and tail feathers brown, edged with olivaceous. 

The young nv.iles are colored like the females, but generally exhibit more or less 
of red feathers among the greenish ones. Sometimes the full plumage is varied by 
a few yellow feathers, or by olivaceous edges to the wings ; not unfrequently there 
is a partly concealed bar of red or yellow on the wing, across the median coverts. 
Young niiiles are sometimes seen with the body like the female, the wings and tail 
like the male. 

Length, seven and forty one-hundredths inches; wing, four inches; tail, three 
inches. 

This gaudy summer visitor breeds in all the New-England 
States ; less plentifully, however, in the northern than in the 
southern districts. It arrives from the South about the first 
week in May, and commences building about the 20th of 
that month. The favorite localities of this bird seem to be 
oak-groves, situated near swamps : here I have often heard 
several males singing at the same time, and have watched 
them in their active movements in their pursuit of insects, 
of which this species destroys great numbers. The nest is 
placed on a horizontal limb of a tree, usually from fifteen 
to twenty feet from the ground, in the deep woods. It is 
constructed of slender twigs of the oak, huckleberry or 
whortleberry bush, and weeds: these are loosely put to- 
gether ; so much so, that, were it not for the interlacing of 
the small joints of the twigs, it would soon fall apart. It is 
not deeply hollowed, and is lined with thread-like fibrous 
roots and the leaves of the various pines. The whole 
structure is so thinly made as almost to fall to pieces on 
removal from the tree. The eggs are usually four in num- 
ber, sometimes three, seldom five. They are of a dull light 
greenish-blue color, of different shades, and spattered with 



252 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

purplish-brown, in some specimens quite thickly, in others 
less so. The ground-color is the most prominent ; the mark- 
ings never completely hiding it, or sufficiently confluent to 




be called blotches. A nest complement of four eggs, in a 
nest collected in Milton, Mass., exhibit the following meas- 
urements: .97 by .66 inch, .93 by .65 inch, .90 by .62 inch, 
.88 by .64 inch. Other specimens show no great variations 
from these dimensions. 

The Scarlet Tanager thrives well in confinement, and 
makes a beautiful and interesting pet. I once kept one 
caged for over six months. He eat seeds and small fruits, 
and, within a week after his capture, chanted his warbling 
song with perfect freedom. He had, and I have also noted 
that all of this species have, a sort of ventriloquism in his 
song: it at times sounded as if at quite a distance; and I 
have been deceived in this manner, by birds that were almost 
over my head, into supposing that they were far away. 



THE SCARLET TANAGEE. 253 

The song is almost exactly like that of the Robin, but is 
often broken with a pensive call-note, sounding like the 
syllables chip churr. 

Early in September, the Tanagers leave for their Southern 
homes ; from which they seem, while here, hardly more than 
wanderers, so commonly do we associate gaudy plumages 
with tropical climes. They winter, probably, in Central 
America and the Bahamas. 



254 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



FAMILY HIRUNDINID^E. THE SWALLOWS. 
Sub-Family HIRUNDININ^E. 

Bill triangular, very short and broad, much depressed ; the ridge much less than 
half the head ; the gonys two-thirds this length ; the gape extending to below the 
eye; primaries nine; the first longest, and, with the second, considerably longer 
than the others ; the secondaries and tertials not reaching the middle of the prima- 
ries; the secondaries deeply emarginate; wings very long, reaching beyond the 
commencement of the fork of the tail, which is generally more or less deep; tarsi 
scutellate, very short, less than the lateral toes, the inner of which is more deeply 
cleft than the outer. 

HIRUNDO, LINN^US. 

Hirundo, LINN.EUS, Syst. Nat. (1735). Gray, Genera, I. (1845). 

Nostrils basal, small, oblong, and covered partly by a membrane; tail more or 
less forked; the outer lateral feather sometimes greatly lengthened; tarsi shorter 
than the middle toe, and scutellated ; tarsi naked ; toes long, slender, the lateral ones 
unequal ; claws moderate, curved, acute. 

HIEUNDO HORREORUM. Barton. 
The Barn Swallow. 

Hirundo horreorum, Barton. Fragments N. H. Penna. (1799) 17. 
Hirundo Americana, Wilson. Am. Orn., V. (1812) 34. 
Hirundo rustica, Audubou. Orn. Biog., II. ( 1834) 413. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Tail very deeply forked ; outer feathers several inches longer than the inner, very 
narrow towards the end ; above glossy-blue, with concealed white in the middle of 
the back ; throat chestnut ; rest of lower part reddish-white, not conspicuously dif- 
ferent; a steel-blue collar on the upper part of the breast, interrupted in the middle; 
tail feathers with a white spot near the middle, on the inner web. Female with the 
outer tail feather not quite so long. 

Length, six and ninety one-hundredths inches; wing, five inches; tail, four and 
fifty one hundredths inches. 

THIS beautiful and well-known bird arrives in New 
England from about the 10th of April to the 25th of 
that month, according to latitude : it is quickly dispersed in 
great numbers through these States, and soon commences 
mating. Its habits are so well known that any description 



THE BARN SWALLOW. 



255 




This nest is built out 



here is hardly needed. About the 10th of May, after the 
birds have paired, they commence building; or sometimes 
the same couple begin repairing the nest of the preceding 
year or years, as the same nest 
is occupied several seasons. It is 
built in the eaves of houses or 
barns, or on rafters of barns and 
other buildings. It is constructed 
outwardly of a strong shell of 
pellets of mud, which are plas- 
tered together, and, as Nuttall 
says, "tempered with fine hay, 
and rendered more adhesive by 
the glutinous saliva of the bird." 
and up until the top is about horizontal, and then lined with 
a layer of fine grass or hay, which is covered with loose 
feathers. This bird is fond of society, often as many as 
twenty nests being in the same eaves. The eggs are 
usually four in number, sometimes five: they are of a 
nearly pure-white color, with a slight roseate tint ; and are 
spotted more or less thickly with fine dots of two shades of 
brown, reddish, and purplish. The dimensions of four eggs, 
collected in Upton, Me., are .76 by .56 inch, .70 by .52 
inch, .76 by .52 inch, .69 by .53 inch. The largest speci- 
men, in a great number, is .78 by .57 inch ; the smallest. 
.67 by .50 inch. Two broods, and sometimes three, are 
reared in the season. The period of incubation is thirteen 
days. 

About the first week in September, the old and young 
birds of different families gather in immense flocks ; and, 
after remaining about the marshes near the seacoast for a 
few days, they leave for their winter homes. It is seldom 
that any are seen after Sept. 15th in New England. 



256 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



HIRUNDO LUNIFRONS. Say. 
The Cliff Swallow ; Eave Swallow. 

ffirundo lunifrons, Say. Long's Exped. R. Mts., II. (1823) 47. 
Hirundo respublicana, Audubon. Ann. N.Y. Lye., I. (1824) 164. 
Hirundo fulva, Audubon. Orn. Biog., I. (1831) 353. 
Hii-undo melanogaster, Swainson. Philos. Mag., I. (1827) 366. 
Petrochelidon melanogastra, Cabanis. Mus. Hein., 47. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Crown and back steel-blue; the upper part of the latter with concealed pale 
edges to the feathers; chin, throat, and sides of the head dark-chestnut; breast 
fuscous; belly white; a steel-blue spot on throat; rump light-chestnut; forehead 
brownish-white; a pale nuchal band; tail slightly emarginate. 

Length, about five inches ; wing, four and forty one-hundredths ; tail, two and 
twenty one-hundredths. 

Hob. North America from Atlantic to Pacific. 

The Cliff Swallow is very generally distributed as a sum- 
mer inhabitant of New England. It arrives from the South 
from about the 25th of April to the 1st of May. It has all 
the habits and characteristics of the preceding species, and 
is probably as well known throughout New England as that 
bird. About the 10th of May (sometimes earlier, sometimes 
later, according to latitude), it pairs, and commences build- 
ing. The nest is usually fixed beneath eaves or cornices, 
or other jutting portions of buildings, or on cliffs, beneath 
overhanging portions of rock : it is constructed externally 
of pellets of mud and earth, which are gradually plastered 
together into a large gourd-shaped structure ; the larger part 
attached to the building or cliff, and the neck curving out- 
ward and downward. At the part of the nest resembling 
the neck of the gourd is the entrance. The whole fabric is 
much more brittle than the nest of the Barn Swallow, for the 
reason that no grass or hay is worked into the mud to give 
it strength. A lining of fine grass and feathers is fixed in 
this, and the whole makes a very neat and comfortable 
structure. The eggs are usually five in number. They 
can hardly be distinguished from those of the preceding 



THE WHITE-BELLIED SWALLOW. 257 

species; and, in fact, identification is next to impossible. 
In a majority of the present species, the spots are somewhat 
coarser, and the eggs are generally longer. Four eggs, 
collected in Dorchester, Mass., are of the average dimen- 
sions of .84 by .54 inch ; other specimens, from various 
localities, are about this size. 

Like the Barn Swallow, this species gathers into large 
flocks at the end of the summer, and frequents the same 
localities, but not at the same time ; as it leaves usually a 
week or ten days before the other bird. 

HIRUNDO BICOLOR. VieMot. 
The White-bellied Swallow ; Blue-backed Swallow. 

Hirundo bicolor, Vieillot. Ois. Am. Sept., I. (1807) 61. Aud. Orn. Biog. (1831), 
491. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Glossy metallic-green above; entirely white beneath. Female much duller in 
color. 

Length, six and twenty-five one-hundredths inches ; wing, five inches ; tail, two 
and sixty-five one-hundredths inches. 

This very common and well-known species is a summer 
inhabitant of all New England ; being most abundant in 
localities near sheets of water, and less common in high, 
dry districts. Its habits are well known ; and arriving, as 
it does, early in the season, and fraternizing with man, it is 
a great favorite. It makes its appearance as early as the 
first week in April, but does not commence building before 
the middle of May. Near cities and towns, the nest is 
built in martin-boxes provided for its reception: but, in 
less thickly settled districts, it is built in holes in stumps 
and trees ; and cases are on record of its being built in a 
deserted nest of the common Barn Swallow. When passing 
through the chain of the Umbagog lakes, in Maine, I 
observed great numbers of these birds whose nests were 
built in holes in dead trees standing in the lake near the 
shores. These nests were so plenty, that, in the area of 

17 



258 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

about ten rods square, I counted over fifty. Of course, the 
birds were in myriads, and the species constitutes the com- 
mon Swallow of the districts in that latitude. The materials 
used in the construction of the nest are fine grasses, hay, 
and feathers : these are adjusted loosely in the cavity of the 
tree, and without any form. The eggs are, most commonly, 
five in number. Their color is a beautiful clear-white, with 
a roseate tint before their contents are removed : they are 
extremely thin and fragile, much more so than most of the 
other species ; and their form is a slender oval. Of a great 
number of specimens, collected in various localities, the 
largest is .79 by .56 inch ; the smallest, .69 by .51 inch. 
Two broods are generally reared in the season, and the 
period of incubation is fourteen days. 

This species leaves New England in the fall migration 
about the 10th of September. 



COTYLE, BOIE. 

Cotyle, BOIE, Isis (1822), 550. (Type H. riparia.) 

Bill very flat, extremely broad at the base, and gradually narrowed towards 
the tip ; nostrils prominent and rounded ; tail moderate, nearly straight, or some- 
what emarginated ; tarsi rather shorter than the middle toe, slender and scutellated ; 
toes very slender, the claws slightly curved; colors generally dull brown above, 
without gloss. 

COTYLE RIPARIA. Boie. 
The Bank Swallow. 

Hirundo riparia, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 344. Wils. Am. Orn., V. 46. 
Aud. Orn. Biog., IV. (1838) 584. 

Cotyle riparia, Boie. Isis (1822), 550. 

DESCRIPTION. 

The smallest of American swallows ; tail slightly emarginate ; outer web of first 
primary soft, without hooks ; lower part of the tarsus with a few scattered feathers ; 
above grayish-brown, somewhat fuliginous, with a tendency to paler margins to the 
feathers; beneath pure-white, with a band across the breast and sides of the body 
like the back. 

Length, four and seventy-five one-hundredths inches; wing, four; tail, two 
inches. 



THE BANK SWALLOW. . 259 

Unlike all our other swallows, this species avoids the 
neighborhood of man in selecting its breeding-place ; and it 
is abundant only in the neighborhood of streams or other 
sheets of water. It is distributed, as a summer resident, 
in all the New-England States, and in many localities is 
very abundant. It arrives the first week in May, often 
earlier ; and soon pairs, and commences building, or rather 
excavating, for the nest. The excavations are made in 
sand-banks, in the same manner as those of the Kingfisher, 
and are often three or four feet in depth, usually about 
eighteen inches. At the end of this burrow, which is 
widened and enlarged, is placed the nest, composed of 
dried grasses, hay, feathers, and other like soft materials. 
The birds are sociable in their habits, as are all the other 
species ; and often as many as twenty and thirty holes 
may be seen in the same bank. The number of eggs is 
either five or four. These are of a pure-white color, and 
vary but little in size or shape ; the latter being almost 
always oval, and the size ranging from .72 by .52 inch to 
.68 by .49 inch. Usually two broods are reared in the 
season, but often only one. 

In habits, this bird resembles the other swallows, but is 
not so quarrelsome as they, and I never noticed two of this 
species fighting: its note is not, like theirs, shrill and oft 
repeated, but is only a seldom-uttered lisping chatter. It 
leaves New England by the last week in August. 

PROGNE, BOIE. 

Progne, BIOE, Isis (1826), 971. (Type Hirundo purpurea, L.) 

Bill, strong, short; the gape very wide; the sides gradually compressed, the 

culmen and lateral margins arched to the tip, the latter inflected; the nostrils 

basal, lateral, open, and rounded ; tail considerably forked ; tarsi shorter than the 

middle toe and claw, about equal to the toe alone; toes long, strong; lateral ones 



The large size, very stout bill and feet (for this family), with the usually uni- 
form black glossy plumage, readily distinguish this genus among the swallows. 
But one species is well established as North American. 



260 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



PROGNE PURPUREA. Boie. 
The Purple Martin. 

Hirundo purpurea, Linnteus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 344. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. 
(1831) 115. 

Progne purpurea, Boie. Isis (1826), 971. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Largest of North-American Swallows; closed wings rather longer than the 
deeply forked tail ; tarsi and toes naked ; color, in the old male, everywhere glossy 
steel-blue, with purple and violet reflections. Female and immature male less 
brilliant above, pale-brownish beneath, blotched with darker or with bluish. 

Length, seven and thirty one-hundredths inches; wing, five and eighty-five 
one-hundredths ; tail, three and forty one-hundredths inches. 

The Purple Martin is the least abundant of all our 
Swallows, and, indeed, in some localities is quite rare. 
It arrives from the South about the first week in May, 
and is distributed in single pairs through all New Eng- 
land. 

The description, by Wilson, of the habits of the bird, is 
so well written that 1 present quite a liberal extract from it. 
He says, 

" The summer residence of this agreeable bird is universally 
among the habitations of man, who, having no interest in his 
destruction, and deriving considerable advantage as well as amuse- 
ment from his company, is generally his friend and protector. 
Wherever he comes, he finds some hospitable retreat fitted up for 
his accommodation and that of his young, either in the projecting 
wooden cornice, on the top of the roof or sign-post, in the box 
appropriated to the Blue-bird, or, if all these be wanting, in the 
dove-house among the pigeons. In this last case, he sometimes 
takes possession of one quarter or tier of the premises, in which 
not a pigeon dare for a moment set its foot. Some people have 
large conveniences formed for the Martins, with many apartments, 
which are usually full tenanted, and occupied regularly every 
spring ; and, in such places, particular individuals have been noted 
to return to the same box for several successive years. Even the 
solitary Indian seems to have a particular respect for this bird. 



THE PURPLE MARTIN. 261 

The Choctaws and Chickasaws cut off all the top branches from a 
sapling near their cabins, leaving the prongs a foot or two in 
length, on each of which they hang a gourd or calabash, properly 
hollowed out, for their convenience. On the banks of the Missis- 
sippi, the negroes stick up long canes, with the same species of 
apartment fixed to their tops, in which the Martins regularly 
breed. Wherever I have travelled in this country, I have 
seen with pleasure the hospitality of the inhabitants to this favor- 
ite bird. 

"About the middle or 20th of April, the Martins first begin to 
prepare their nest. The last of these which I examined was 
formed of dry leaves of the weeping willow, slender straws, hay, 
and feathers in considerable quantity. The eggs were four, very 
small for the size of the bird, and pure-white, without any spots. 
The first brood appears in May, the second late in July. During 
the period in which the female is laying, and before she commences 
incubation, they are both from home the greater part of the day. 
When the female is sitting, she is frequently visited by the male, 
who also occupies her place while she takes a short recreation 
abroad. He also often passes a quarter of an hour in the apart- 
ment beside her, and has become quite domesticated since her con- 
finement. He sits on the outside, dressing and arranging his 
plumage, occasionally passing to the door of the apartment, as if 
to inquire how she does. His notes, at this time, seem to have 
assumed a peculiar softness ; and his gratulations are expressive of 
much tenderness. Conjugal fidelity, even where there is a num- 
ber together, seems to be faithfully preserved by these birds. On 
the 25th of May, a male and female Martin took possession of a 
box in Mr. Bartram's garden. A day or two after, a second 
female made her appearance, and stayed for several days ; but from 
the cold reception she met with, being frequently beat off by the 
male, she finally abandoned the place, and set off, no doubt, to seek 
for a more sociable companion. 

" The Purple Martin, like his half-cousin the King-bird, is the 
terror of crows, hawks, and eagles. These he attacks whenever 
they make their appearance, and with such vigor and rapidity that 
they instantly have recourse to flight. So well known is this to 
the lesser birds, and to the domestic poultry, that, as soon as they 



ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

hear the Martin's voice engaged in fight, all is alarm and conster- 
nation. To observe with what spirit and audacity this bird dives 
and sweeps upon and around the Hawk or the Eagle is astonish- 
ing. He also bestows an occasional bastinading on the King-bird 
when he finds him too near his premises ; though he will, at any 
time, instantly co-operate with him in attacking the common 
enemy. 

" The Martin differs from all the rest of our Swallows in the 
particular prey which he selects. Wasps, bees, large beetles, par- 
ticularly those called by the boys goldsmiths, seem his favorite 
game. I have taken four of these large beetles from the stomach 
of a Purple Martin, each of which seemed entire, and even 
unbruised. 

" The flight of the Purple Martin unites in it all the swiftness, 
ease, rapidity of turning, and gracefulness of motion of its tribe. 
Like the Swift of Europe, he sails much with little action of the 
wings. He passes through the most crowded parts of our streets, 
eluding the passengers with the quickness of thought ; or plays 
among the clouds, gliding about at a vast height, like an aerial 
being. His usual note, peuo, peuo, peuo, is loud and musical ; 
but is frequently succeeded by others more low and guttural. 
Soon after the 20th of August, he leaves Pennsylvania for the 
South." 

In New England, this species begins to prepare its nest 
about the 10th of May : this is composed of dried grasses, 
leaves, and feathers, and is deposited usually in a box pre- 
pared for this purpose. The eggs are from four to six in 
number, of a pure-white color, and vary but little in form 
from exactly oval. Four specimens, collected in Connecti- 
cut, exhibit the following measurements : 1.04 by .70 inch, 
1 by .70 inch, 1 by .68 inch, .97 by .68 inch. Other speci- 
mens vary but little from these dimensions. Two broods 
are often reared in the season, and the period of incubation 
is fourteen days. 

In dismissing this family, it is hardly necessary, at this 
late day, to say a word in favor of their beneficial habits ; 



THE PURPLE MARTIN. 263 

for every farmer has recognized them, and encouraged 
the presence of the birds, and protected them for years ; 
but the immense amount of injurious and noxious insects 
they destroy is astonishing, and hardly realized ; amount- 
ing probably to several hundreds by every bird in the 
day. 



264 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



FAMILY BOMBYCILLID^. THE CHATTERERS. 

Primaries ten, the first very short or moderate, always less than half the second ; 
bill short, broad, triangular, much depressed; gape opening nearly to the eyes, 
twice the length of the cultnen; both mandibles notched, the upper with a tooth 
behind the notch ; tarsi scutellate anteriorly, with indications also of scales inferiorly 
on the sides (except in Myiadestes ?), shorter than the middle toe ; outer lateral toe 
longest; toes unequally cleft ; head generally crested. 



Sub-Family BOMBYCILLIN^E. The Wax Wings. 

AMPELIS, LINNAEUS. 

Ampelis, LINN^US, Syst. Nat. (1735). (Type A. garrulus.) 

Head with a broad, depressed crest; bill very broad, opening nearly to the eye; 
a series of short, velvety feathers at the base of the bill, with bristles directed for- 
wards and covering the nostrils, but none along the rictus ; commissure straight ; 
culmen and gonys curved, convex; both mandibles notched at tip; legs stout; tarsi 
shorter than the middle toe, scutellate anteriorly, and slightly on the lower half on 
the sides behind, slightly feathered above ; hind toe shorter than the lateral, which 
are equal; wings very long, pointed, reaching almost to the tip of the nearly even 
tail; first primary so short as to be with difficulty discernible, the second quill 
longest; tips of secondary quills with horny appendages, like sealing-wax. 

AMPELIS GARRULUS. Linnaeus. 
The Wax-wing ; Bohemian Chatterer. 

" Lanius garrulus, Linnaeus. Fauna Suecica, II. No. 82." 
Ampelis garrulus, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 297. 
B&mbydtta garrula. Aud. Orn. Biog., IV. (1838) 462. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Highly crested; general color brownish-ash, with a faint shade of reddish, 
especially anteriorly ; the forehead, sides of the head, and under tail coverts, brown- 
ish-orange ; the hinder parts purer ash ; the region about the vent white ; primaries 
and tail feathers plumbeous black, especially towards the tips ; the tail with a ter- 
minal band of yellow; a narrow frontal line passing backward and involving the 
eye, and extending above and behind it; chin and upper part of throat black; tips 
of the secondary coverts, and a spot on the end of the outer webs of all the quills, 
white; those on the inner primaries glossed with yellow; secondaries with red, horny 
tips, like sealing-wax; side of the lower jaw whitish. 

Length, seven and forty one-hundredths inches ; wing, four and fifty one-hun- 
dredths inches; tail, three inches. 



THE CEDAR-BIRD. 265 

This species, with the general appearance of the Cedar-bird, is readily distin- 
guished by its superior size, much larger crest, black chin and throat, instead of 
chin alone, brownish-chestnut under tail coverts, instead of white, and the white 
marks on the wing not found at all in the other. In the closed wing, the white on 
the ends of the primaries forms a continuous narrow stripe nearly parallel with the 
outer edge of the wing. 

FT1HIS bird is an extremely rare winter visitor in New 
JL England, appearing only in severe seasons. It is seen 
in small flocks of perhaps six or eight individuals, usually 
in groves of cedars or Virginia junipers, where it feeds on 
the small blue berries or seeds that are found on those trees. 
This species breeds in the most northern portions of the 
continent. I am unacquainted with its habits, nest, or 
eggs. 

AMPELIS CEDRORUM. Baird. 
The Cedar-bird; Cherry-bird. 

Ampelis garrulus, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 297. 

Bombycilla Carolinensis, Audubon. Orn. Biog., I. (1831) 227; V. 494. 

Ampelis Americana, Wilson. Am. Orn., I. (1808) 107. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Head crested ; general color reddish-olive, passing anteriorly on the neck, head, 
and breast into purplish-cinnamon, posteriorly on the upper parts into ash, on the 
lower into yellow; under tail coverts white; chin dark sooty-black, fading insensibly 
into the ground-color on the throat ; forehead, loral region, space below the eye, and 
a line above it on the side of the head, intense black ; quills and tail dark-plumbeous, 
passing behind into dusky; the tail tipped with yellow; the primaries, except the 
first, margined with hoary; a short maxillary stripe, a narrow crescent on the inferb- 
posterior quarter of the eye, white ; secondaries with horny tips, like red sealing-wax. 

Length, seven and twenty-five one-hundredths inches; wing, four and five one- 
hundredths; tail, two and sixty one-hundredths inches. 

Hob. North America generally, south to Guatemala. 

This very common and well-known bird is a summer 
inhabitant of all New England. It remains in the southern 
districts through the winter, but usually arrives, in flocks 
of twenty or thirty, as early as the first or second week in 
March. About the middle of May, these flocks are divided 
into smaller ones, and these soon into pairs, which com- 
mence building about the last week in May or first in June. 
The nest is placed in the midst of twigs on a horizontal 




266 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

branch, generally of a tree in the orchard ; sometimes in a 
cedar or other tree in a pasture or wood. It is con- 
structed of stalks of weeds, long fine roots, grass, grape- 
vine bark, and leaves : it is 
deeply hollowed, and lined with 
fine roots, horsehairs, and fine 
grass. One specimen in my col- 
lection is partly composed of 
strips of twine and thread, 
which are woven together in a 
very neat and compact man- 
ner, and interlaced with nu- 
merous fine roots and weeds. 
The eggs are usually four or 
five in number: they are laid 
about the first week in June, 

Lower fig., Cedar-bird. and a SeC01ld Utt6r ftei1 in AU ~ 

upper flg., Bed-eyed vireo. gust. They are of a light-bluish 

or clay-white color, with a slight purple tint, and are marked, 
more or less thickly, with distinct spots of black, and more 
obscure spots of purplish-brown : the appearance of these 
latter spots is as if they were " beneath the surface of 
the shell." Dimensions of five eggs collected in New 
Hampshire : .86 by .64 inch, .86 by .63 inch, .86 by .60 
inch, .80 by .62 inch, .80 by .60 inch. A great number of 
specimens from different localities do not exhibit any great 
variations from these measurements. 

There is a great deal of ill feeling manifested towards 
this well-known bird by the farmers, on account of its occa- 
sionally helping itself to a few cherries or other small fruits. 
Its valuable services in the orchard and nursery seem to be 
overlooked, and its life is often forfeited for this little weak- 
ness. But if the farmer will observe it in its insect-destroy- 
ing labors, watch it as it devours caterpillar after caterpillar, 
or draws from its lurking-place the larva of some injurious 
insect, he will come to the conclusion, as many have already 



THE CEDAR-BIRD. 267 

done, that this bird is worthy his protection, instead of 
deserving his anger. 

Says Nuttall, in speaking of this fact, 

"At this season (April), to repay the gardener for the tithe 
of his crop, their natural due, they fail not to assist in ridding his 
trees of more deadly enemies which infest them, and the small 
caterpillars, beetles, and various insects now constitute their only 
food ; and for hours at a time they may be seen feeding on the all- 
despoiling canker-worms, which infest our apple-trees and elms. 
On these occasions, silent and sedate, after plentifully feeding, they 
sit dressing their feathers, in near contact on the same branch, to 
the number of five or six ; and, as the season of selective attach- 
ment approaches, they may be observed pluming each other, and 
caressing with the most gentle fondness. This friendly trait is 
carried so far, that an eye-witness assures me he has seen one 
among a row of these birds seated upon a branch dart after an 
insect, and offer it to his associate when caught, who very disin- 
terestedly passed it to the next ; and, each delicately declining the 
offer, the morsel has proceeded backwards and forwards before it 
was appropriated." 

The note of the Cedar-bird, like that of the Wax-wing, is 
a feeble, plaintive twe, twee, uttered often, and by both 
sexes. 



268 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



FAMILY LANIID^. 

Bill strong and compressed, the tip abruptly hooked ; both mandibles distinctly 
notched, the upper with a distinct tooth behind, the lower with the point bent up; 
tarsi longer than the middle toe, strongly scutel late; primaries ten; first primary 
half the second, or shorter (occasionally wanting). 

The sub-families of Laniidce belonging to the United States are as follows : 

LANIIN.E. Bill very powerful, much compressed, and abruptly hooked, with a 
very prominent tooth behind the notch; wings considerably rounded; tail rather 
long and graduated ; sides of the tarsi scutellate behind. 

VIREONINJE. Bill moderate, cylindrical, somewhat compressed; wings long, the 
first primary sometimes wanting; tail short and nearly even; sides of the tarsi behind 
not scutellate. 

Sub-Family LANIIN^E. The Shrikes. 
COLLYRIO, MOEHRING. 

Collyrio, MOEHRING, Genera Avium (1752), 28. (Type Lanius excubitor, L.) 
Lanius, of AUTHORS. 

Feathers of forehead stiffened ; base of bill, including nostrils, covered by bristly 
feathers directed forward; bill shorter than the head, much compressed, and very 
powerful ; culmen decurved from base, the mandible abruptly bent down in a power- 
ful hook, what in acute lobe near the tip; tip of lower mandible bent upwards in a 
hook; the gonys very convex; rictus with long bristles; legs stout; the tarsi are 
rather short, longer than the middle toe ; the lateral equal ; the claws all very sharp 
and much curved ; wings rounded ; the first primary about half the second, which is 
equal to the sixth or seventh; tail longer than the wings, much graduated, the 
feathers broad. 

COLLYEIO BOREALIS. Baird. 
The Great Northern Shrike ; Butcher-bird. 

Lanius septentrionalis, Bonaparte. Syn. (1828), 72. Bon. List (1838). Nutt. 
Man., L (1832)258. 

Lanius borealls, Audubon. Syn. (1839), 157. 

Lanius excubitor. Wils., I. (1808) 74. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 534. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Above light bluish-ash, obscurely soiled with reddish-brown ; forehead, sides of 
the crown, scapulars, and upper tail coverts hoary-white ; beneath white, the breast 
with fine transverse lines; wings and tail black, the former with a white patch at 
base of primaries and tips of small quills, the latter with the lateral feathers tipped 
with white; bill blackish-brown, considerably lighter at the base; black stripe from 
the bill through and behind the eye, but beneath the latter interrupted by a whitish 
crescent. Female and young with the gray soiled with brownish. 







GREAT NORTHERN SHRIKE, Butcher-bird, CoUyrio borealis. Baird. 



THE GREAT NORTHERN SHRIKE. 269 

Length, nine and eighty-five one-hundredths inches; wings, four and fifty one- 
hundredths inches; tail, four and eighty one-hundredths inches; its graduation, 
ninety one-hundredths inches. 

THIS species, although not uncommon as a winter visitor 
in New England, is seldom seen here during the sum- 
mer months ; and I think that it very rarely breeds in these 
States, and then only in the most northern and retired 
sections. 

It makes its appearance about the last week in October, 
jyid is seen until the last week in May. During this period, 
it preys upon small birds, mice, and such insects and Iarva3 
as it finds in exposed situations, such as fences, piles of 
stones, &c. 

In watching for its prey, it usually remains perched on a 
stake or small tree, in a field or meadow, carefully scanning 
the surrounding neighborhood. When a mouse or other 
small mammal presents itself in the grass, the bird folds 
its wings, drops on it with an unerring aim, and seizes it 
with its bill. If a flock of small birds, such as Pine-finches 
or Red-polls, appear in sight, he immediately pursues them, 
and generally secures one or two before they are dispersed. 
I have seen an individual dart into a flock of Tree Sparrows, 
and kill three of them before they could escape ; and it 
seems a characteristic of this bird to secure more than 
enough food for its present wants. Its habit of suspending 
small birds, mice, and insects on thorns and small twigs, 
is well known. This is done, I am inclined to think, not 
because, as many writers assert, that it will not eat its food 
when freshly killed, and it thus suspends it in order that 
it may become tainted, but rather to have this food stored 
for future need. We see many other birds with this same 
habit of providing for future wants ; particularly the Blue 
Jay, and some of the Woodpeckers. 

I have never met with the nest of this species, and will 
borrow the description by Audubon : 

"About the 20th of April, the male and his mate are seen 



270 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

engaged in building their nest in the covered and secluded parts of 
the forests. I found several of their nests placed on bushes not 
above ten feet from the ground, without any appearance of choice 
as to the tree, but generally towards the top, and placed in a fork. 
The nest is as large as that of the Robin, and is composed exter- 
nally of coarse grasses, leaves, and naoss ; internally of fibrous roots, 
over which is a bed of the feathers of the wild turkey and pheas- 
ant (Tetrao umbellus)" 

Nuttall, in describing the nest, says that it is " large and 
compact, in the fork of a small tree, and sometimes in an 
apple-tree, composed externally of dried grass, with whitish 
moss, and well lined with feathers." 

The eggs are from four to six in number, of a dirty lead- 
colored white, and marked more or less thickly, around the 
greater end, with dashes and spots of brown of different 
shades. Dimensions of four eggs : 1.12 by .80 inch, 1.12 
by .78 inch, 1.08 by .78 inch, 1.04 by .77 inch. 



Sub-Family VIREONIN^E. The Vireos. 

VIREO, VIEILLOT. 

Vireo, VIEILLOT, Ois. Am. Sept., I. (1807) 83. (Type Muscicapa Noveloracensis, 
Gm.) 

Bill short, strong, straight ; the culmen slightly curved, the sides much compressed 
to the tip, which is rapidly curved and deflected; the gonys long and ascending; the 
gape with short, weak bristles; the nostrils basal, rounded, and exposed, the feathers 
of the head advancing forward on the bill to the nostril ; wings variable, rather long. 
and pointed; the first quill sometimes spurious, the larger outer one always gradu- 
ated a little; tail nearly even and rather short; tarsi longer than the middle toe; 
outer toe a little longer than the inner; hind toe rather shorter than the middle one. 

VIREO OLIVACEUS. Vieillot. 
The Red-eyed Vireo. 

Muscicapa olivacea, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 327. Wils. Am. Orn., II. 
(1810) 65. 

Vireo olivaceus, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 312. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1831) 287; 
V. 430. 



THE BED-EYED VIREO. 271 

DESCRIPTION. 

Second and third quills about equal, and longest; first a little shorter than the 
fourth, but considerably longer than the fifth ; back, rump, and edges of wing and 
tail feathers bright olivaceous-green ; side of head and neck paler ; crown dark-ash, 
sharply defined ; a well-defined whitish line from the bill, over the eye, nearly to the 
occiput; a dark line separating it above from the ashy crown; a dusky line through 
the eye; beneath white; under tail coverts pale sulphur-yellow; iris, red. 

Length, about six and fifty one-hundredths inches ; wing, three and fifty one- 
hundredths. 

I feel that no description of mine can begin to do justice 
to the genial, happy, industrious disposition of this one of 
our most common, and perhaps best-loved birds. From the 
time of its arrival, about the first week in May, until its 
departure, about the first week in October, it is seen in the 
foliage of elms and other shade-trees in the midst of our 
cities and villages, in the apple-trees near the farm-houses, 
and in the tall oaks and chestnuts in the deep forests. 
Everywhere in these States, at all hours of the day, from 
early dawn until evening twilight, his sweet, half-plaintive, 
half-meditative carol is heard. I know that I am not singu- 
lar in my preference, when I say, that, of all my feathered 
acquaintances, this is the greatest favorite I have. I always 
loved it ; and I can never look upon one, after it is killed, 
no matter how naturally it is preserved, without a sad feel- 
ing, as if it were one of my own most dear friends dead 
before me. 

The Red-eyed Yireo is one of the most industrious of 
our birds. Whenever we see him, we notice that he is 
busily searching in the foliage of trees for caterpillars and 
noxious larvae, or pursuing winged insects that have taken 
flight from the trees. While thus engaged, he utters at 
short intervals his warbling song. This consists some- 
times of a few syllables like *w$e cheweo turruttit cheiveeo, 
given in a singularly sweet tone. This is only a part of its 
song ; and the whole is so difficult of description that I can- 
not put it on paper. 

SaysNuttall, 



272 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

" The whole is delivered almost without any sensible interval, 
with earnest animation, in a pathetic, tender, and pleasing strain, 
well calculated to produce calm and thoughtful reflection in the 
sensitive mind. Yet, while this heavenly reverie strikes on 
the human ear with such peculiar effect, the humble musician 
himself seems but little concerned : for all the while, perhaps, that 
this flowing chorus enchants the hearer, he is casually hopping 
Vrom spray to spray in quest of his active or crawling prey ; and, 
if a cessation occurs in his almost untiring lay, it is occasioned by 
the caterpillar or fly he has fortunately just captured. So unaf- 
fected are these delightful efforts of instinct, and so unconscious is 
the performer, apparently, of this pleasing faculty bestowed upon 
him by nature, that he may truly be considered as a messenger of 
harmony to man alone, appointed by the fiat of the Creative 
power. Wantonly to destroy these delightful aids to sentimental 
happiness ought therefore to be viewed, not only as an act of bar- 
barity, but almost as a sacrilege." 

The Red-eyed Yireo commences building about the first 
week in June, frequenting the woods rather more commonly 
than the pastures and orchards, although it often breeds in 
these places. The nest is pensile, and is hung from the 
fork of a small limb of a tree, seldom more than fifteen or 
twenty feet from the ground : it is constructed of thin strips 
of cedar bark, pieces of wasps' nests, spiders' nests, pieces of 
caterpillars' silk, and other pliable materials. These are 
woven together neatly and compactly, and agglutinated 
together by the bird's saliva. It is suspended in the form 
of a basket from the forked twig to which it is attached, or 
rather sewed firmly. It is lined with narrow strips of 
grape-vine bark, pine leaves, and sometimes fine grass. On 
the outside are often visible bits of rotten wood, fragments 
of newspapers, and hornet's nests. One specimen in my col- 
lection, obtained in Maine, is constructed almost entirely of 
pieces of the bark of the white birch: it is a very netit 
fabric. The eggs are four in number, pure-white in color, 
and thinly spotted, chiefly at the great end, with dots of 



THE WARBLING VIREO. 273 

brownish-black. The measurement of four eggs in a nest 
collected in Milton, Mass., are .84 by .60 inch, .80 by .60 
inch, .80 by .59 inch, .78 by .59 inch. Other specimens 
vary but little from these dimensions. Two broods are 
often reared in the season. , The period of incubation is 
twelve days. 

VIREO GILVUS. Bonaparte. 
The Warbling Vireo. 

Muscicapa gilva, Vieillot. Ois., I. (1807) 65. 

Vireo yikus, Nuttall. I. (1832) 309. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 114; V. (1839) 
433. 

Muscicapa melodia, Wilson. Am. Orn., V. (1812) 85. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Third, fourth, and fifth quills nearly equal; second and sixth usually about equal, 
and about twenty-five one-hundredths of an inch shorter than third ; the exposed 
portion of spurious quill about one-fourth the third; above greenish-olive; the 
head and hind neck ashy, the back slightly tinged with the same ; lores dusky ; a 
white streak from the base of the upper mandible above and a little behind the eye ; 
beneath the eye whitish ; sides of the head pale yellowish-brown ; beneath white, 
tinged with very pale yellow on the breast and sides ; no light margins whatever on 
the outer webs of the wings or tail. 

Length, about five and a half inches; wings nearly three. Spurious primary, 
one-fourth the length of second. 

This species is a not very common summer inhabitant of 
New England, arriving and departing at about the same 
time as the preceding species. It is seldom seen in the 
deep forests ; and, while usually found about farm-houses 
and villages, is most commonly seen in localities where there 
are numbers of the trees of the poplar and ash. In these 
trees, it inhabits the higher branches ; and is, with the Red- 
eyed Vireo, equally industrious in its search for insects. Its 
song is difficult of description : it is, unlike that of our other 
Yireos, a long-continued, cheerful warble ; and is perhaps 
best described by saying that it almost exactly resembles 
the love-song of the Purple Finch. In fact, I have some- 
times mistaken the song of this bird for that of the other, 
and only discovered my error after carefully watching the 
bird in his movements in the tree-tops. 

18 



274 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

The Warbling Vireo seems to arrive here in pairs ; for they 
seem to be mated when we first discover them. Whether 
their attachment continues through several seasons, I am 
ignorant. 

About the middle of May, the pair commence building. 
The nest is pensile, and usually built in tall trees (usually 
poplars), often fifty feet from the ground. It is constructed 
of strips of grape-vine bark, grass, leaves, or bass-wood 
bark ; and sometimes bunches of caterpillars' silk are left on 
the outside, as if for ornament. The following very inter- 
esting account of the breeding habits of this bird is given 
by Audubon, who watched a pair building in a Lombardy 
poplar : 

"One morning, I observed both of them at work: they had 
already attached some slender blades of grass to the knots of the 
branch and the bark of the trunk, and had given them a circular 
disposition. They continued working downwards and outwards 
until the structure exhibited the form of their delicate tenement. 
Before the end of the second day, bits of hornets' nests and particles 
of corn husks had been attached to it by pushing them between the 
rows of grass, and fixing them with silky substances. On the third 
day, the birds were absent, nor could I hear them anywhere in the 
neighborhood ; and, thinking that a cat might have caught them from 
the edge of the roof, I despaired of seeing them again. On the 
fourth morning, however, their notes attracted my attention before 
I arose ; and I had the pleasure of finding them at their labors. 
The materials which they now used consisted chiefly of extremely 
slender grasses, which the birds worked in a circular form within 
the frame which they had previously made. The little creatures 
were absent nearly an hour at a time, and returned together, bring- 
ing the grass, which, I concluded, they found at a considerable 
distance. Going into the street to see in what direction they went, 
I watched them for some time, and followed them as they flew from 
tree to tree towards the river. There they stopped, and looked as 
if carefully watching me, when they resumed their journey, and 
led me quite out of the village to a large meadow, where stood an 
old hay-stack. They alighted on it, and, in a few minutes, each had 



THE WHITE-EYED VIREO. 275 

selected a blade of grass. Returning by the same route, they 
moved so slowly from one tree to another, that my patience was 
severely tried. Two other days were consumed in travelling for 
the same kind of grass. On the seventh, I saw only the female at 
work, using wood and horsehair : the eighth was almost entirely 
spent by both in smoothing the inside. They would enter the nest, 
sit in it, turn round, and press the lining. In the course of five 
days, an equal number of eggs were laid: they were' small, of a 
rather narrow oval form, white, thinly spotted with reddish-black 
at the larger end. The birds sat alternately, though not with regu- 
larity as to time ; and, on the twelfth day of incubation, the young 
came out. I observed that the male would bring insects to the 
female, and that, after chopping and macerating them with her 
beak, she placed them in the mouth of her young with a care 
and delicacy which were not less curious than pleasing to me." 

This account is so full and complete that I can add noth- 
ing to the history of the breeding habits of this bird. But 
one brood is reared in the season in this latitude. The 
dimensions of four eggs in my collection from different 
localities are .83 by .56 inch, .80 by .56 inch, .78 by .54 
inch, .78 by .53 inch. These will be found to be the aver- 
age size of this species. The nest is about three inches in 
exterior diameter, and about two and a half in depth. 

VIREO NOVEBORACENSIS. Bonaparte. 
The White-eyed Vireo. 

Muscicapa Noveboracensis, Gmelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 947. 
Vireo Noveboracensis, Bonaparte. Obs. Wils. (1825), No. 122. Aud. Orn. Biog., 
I. (1831) 328; V. 431, 433; Birds Am., IV. (1842) 146; Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 306. 
Muscicapa cantatrix, Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 266. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Spurious primary about half the second, which is about equal to the eighth quill ; 
entire upper parts bright olivaceous-green; space around the eyes and extending 
to the bill greenish-yellow, interrupted by a dusky spot from the anterior canthus to 
the base of the gape ; beneath white ; the sides of the breast and body well denned, 
almost gamboge-yellow; edges of greater and middle wing coverts (forming two 
bands) and of inner tertiaries greenish-yellow white; iris white. 

Length, five inches; wing, two and fifty one-hundredths. 



276 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

This species is very irregularly distributed in New Eng- 
land as a summer inhabitant. In Maine, New Hampshire, 
and Vermont it is rare ; and, while it is quite abundant in 
the eastern parts of Massachusetts, it is rare in the western. 
Says J. A. Allen of it, at Springfield, 

" I have never known the White-eyed Vireo taken here ; and if 
occurring, as it very probably does, being not very uncommon in 
the eastern parts of the State, it must be excessively rare. In 
about a thousand specimens of the smaller land birds taken at 
Springfield during the last three years by different collectors, not 
a single White-eyed Vireo has been found." 

This species arrives from the South, usually in pairs, from 
about the 10th of April to the 1st of May. It generally 
frequents low thickets and swamps. I do not remember of 
ever meeting with one in deep, high woods ; but have often 
found a pair in a brier-patch in the middle of an old field or 
pasture. In such localities, its peculiar note 'chip cheweeo, 
''chip ''chip cheweeo, is often heard ; together with another 
rattling, scolding note, difficult of description. When the 
bird is approached, it meets the intruder with this scolding 
rattle ; and, if the nest is approached, the Vireo becomes 
almost outrageous in its remonstrances. The nest is usually 
placed in a thicket of briers or vines, often in the gardens 
and fields. It is constructed of fibres of the inner bark of 
trees, fine twigs, grasses, pieces of hornets' nests, and frag- 
ments of paper. These are built in a pensile form, sus- 
pended by the upper edge, and lined with slender strips of 
grape-vine bark and roots. The eggs are usually four in 
number, and can hardly be distinguished from those of the 
Red-eyed Vireo in shape or color; the average dimensions 
being a trifle smaller. Several eggs collected in different 
localities exhibit, as an average measurement, .82 by .59 
inch. A nest complement of four eggs, collected in Milton, 
Mass., vary but a trifle from this size ; their measurement 
being .83 by .59 inch, .82 by .59 inch, .82 by .58 inch, .80 



THE SOLITARY VIREO. 277 

by .58 inch. But one brood is usually reared in New Eng; 
land in the season, and the period of incubation is twelve 
days. 

VIEEO SOLITARIUS. VieiUot. 
The Solitary Vireo; Blue-headed Vireo. 

Muscicapa solitaria, Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 143. 

Vireo solitarius, Vieillot. Nouv. Diet. (1817). Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1831), 147; V. 
(1839) 432. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 305. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Spurious primary very small, not one-fourth the second, which is longer than 
the sixth ; top and sides of the head and upper part of the neck dark bluish-ash ; 
rest of upper parts clear olive-green ; a white ring round the eye, interrupted in the 
anterior canthus by a dusky lore, but the white color extending above this spot to 
the base of the bill; under parts white; the sides under the wings greenish- vellow ; 
two bands on the wing coverts, with the edges of the secondaries, greenish-white ; 
outer tail feather with its edge all round, including the whole outer web, whitish. 

Length, about five and a half inches ; wing, two and forty one-hundredths. 

This bird is a rare summer resident in New England. It 
has been taken in all these States, but not in any numbers. 

It makes its appearance about the first or second week in 
May, usually in pairs, and commences building its nest 
about the last week in that month. I have never met with 
its nest ; and Audubon's description, though meagre, is the 
best available.* It is as follows : 

" The nest is prettily constructed, and fixed, in a partially pensile 
manner, between two twigs of a low bush on a branch running 
horizontally from the main stem. It is formed externally of gray 
lichens slightly put together, and lined with hair, chiefly from the 
deer and raccoon. The female lays four or five eggs, which are 
white, with a strong tinge of flesh-color, and sprinkled with brown- 
ish-red dots at the larger end." 

A number of eggs in my collection correspond in color 
and markings to the above description, and measure on 
the average .81 by .59 inch. But one brood is reared in the 
season, although there have been specimens taken as late as 



278 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

October. But little is known of the habits of this bird, as 
it prefers the deep woods and swamps to the more open dis- 
tricts. 

VIEEO FLAVIFRONS. Vieittot. 
The Yellow-throated Vireo. 

Tireo jlavifrons, Vieillot. Ois. Am., I. (1807) 85. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 
119; V. 428. lb., Syn. /&., Birds Am., IV. (1842) 141. 
Muscicapa sylvicola, Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 117. 

DESCRIPTION. 

No spurious quill; the first and fourth equal; from bill to middle of back, sides 
of head, neck, and fore part of breast olive-green; beneath, from bill to middle of 
belly, with a ring round the eyes, sulphur-yellow; lores dusky; rest of under parts 
white; of upper, ashy-blue, tinged with green; two white bands on the wing; ter- 
tiaries edged with white, other quills with greenish ; outer tail feathers edged with 
vellowish-white ; the outer web of first feather entirely of this color, except near 
the end. 

Length, nearly six inches ; wing, three and twenty one-hundredths. 

This beautiful Yireo is not very common in New England, 
although it is found in all these States as a summer visitor. 
It arrives from the South about the middle of April, some- 
times not before the first of May, and commences building 
about the middle of the latter month. The nest is placed 
in a small fork of a tree, usually the apple-tree, at a height 
of about fifteen or twenty feet from the ground. It is the 
most beautiful nest made by birds of this genus : it is built 
of nearly the same materials as the others, but is covered in 
the most tasty manner with pieces of lichens and caterpil- 
lars' silk and spiders' webs, which are plastered or aggluti- 
nated on over the entire surface, giving the nest the 
appearance of a large bunch of moss hanging from a forked 
twig. Several of these nests, collected in different locali- 
ties, are in my collection. They are invariably of this 
description, and are all lined with pieces of paper, wasps' 
nest, and fine grasses. With the exception of the nest of the 
Humming-bird, and perhaps two or three of the Warblers, 
the nest of this species is the most beautiful specimen of 



THE YELLOW-THROATED VIREO. 279 

bird architecture that I am acquainted with. The eggs are 
usually four in number. They are of a pure-white color, 
with thinly scattered spots of two shades of reddish-brown 
and black. The dimensions of four eggs collected in Con- 
necticut are .83 by .61 inch, .82 by .60 inch, .82 by .60 inch, 
and .80 by .59 inch. But one brood is reared in the season 
in New England. 

Wilson, in describing the habits of this bird, says, 

" This summer species is found chiefly in the woods, hunting 
among the high branches ; and has an indolent and plaintive note, 
which it repeats, with some little variation, every ten or twelve 
seconds, like preeb, preea, &c. It is often heard in company with 
the Red-eyed Flycatcher (Muscicapa olivacea) ; the loud, energetic 
notes of the latter, mingling with the soft, languid warble of the 
former, producing an agreeable effect, particularly during the burn- 
ing heat of noon, when almost every other songster but these two 
is silent. Those who loiter through the shades of our magnificent 
forests at that hour will easily recognize both species. It arrives 
from the south early in May, and returns again with its young 
about the middle of September. Its nest, which is sometimes fixed 
on the upper side of a limb, sometimes on a horizontal branch 
among the twigs, generally on a tree, is composed outwardly of 
thin strips of the bark of grape-vines, moss, lichens, &c., and lined 
with fine fibres of such like substances : the eggs, usually four, are 
white, thinly dotted with black, chiefly near the great end. Winged 
insects are its principal food." 

In dismissing this beautiful and favorite family of our 
birds, I feel that it is impossible to say too much in their 
favor : their neat and delicate plumage and sweet song, their 
engaging and interesting habits, and their well-known insect- 
destroying proclivities, have justly rendered them great 
favorites ; and the farmer, in protecting them, and encour- 
ing them to take up homes near his orchards and gardens, 
but extends a care and welcome for his best friends. 



280 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



FAMILY ALAUDIDJE. THE SKYLARKS. 

First primary very short or wanting; tarsi scutellate anteriorly and posteriorly, 
with the plates nearly of corresponding position and number; hind claw very long 
and nearly straight; bill short, conical, frontal feathers extending along the side of 
the bill ; the nostrils usually concealed by a tuft of bristly feathers directed forwards ; 
tertials greatly elongated beyond the secondaries. 



EREMOPHILA, BOIE. 

EremophQa, BOIE, Isis (1828), 322. (Type Alauda alpeslris.) Sufficiently distinct 
from Eremophilus, Humboldt (Fishes, 1805). 

First primary wanting; bill scarcely higher than broad; nostrils circular, con- 
cealed by a dense tuft, of feathers ; the nasal fossae oblique ; a pectoral crescent and 
cheek patches of black. 

EREMOPHILA CORNUTA. Sole. 
The Skylark; Shore-lark. 

Eastern and Northern variety. 
Alauda cornuta, Wilson. Am. Orn., I. (1808) 85. 
Eremophila cornuta, Boie. Isis (1828), 322. 

Alauda alpeslris, Wilson. Am. Orn., I. (1808) 85. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 455. 
Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 570; V. 448. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Above pinkish-brown, the feathers of the back streaked with dusky; a broad 
band across the crown, extending backwards along the lateral tufts; a cre?centic 
patch from the bill below the eye and along the side of the head: a jugular crescent, 
and the tail feathers, black ; the innermost of the latter like the back ; a frontal band 
extending backwards over the eye, and under parts, with outer edge of wings and 
tail, white; chin and throat yellow. 

Length of Pennsylvania specimens, seven and seventy-five one-hundredths 
inches; wing, four and fifty one-hundredths inches; tail, three and twenty-five one- 
hundredths inches; bill, above, fifty-two one-hundredths of an inch. 

THIS bird is found in New England only as a winter 
visitor. It makes its appearance by the latter part of 
November, in flocks of thirty or forty, which repair to the 
salt-marshes, and low pastures and fields, where they remain 
during their stay with us. Here they feed on the seeds of 
various grasses and weeds, and such insects as they may be 



THE SKYLARK. 281 

able to obtain at that inclement season. They often associate 
with the Snow Buntings, and sometimes make short excur- 
sions inland. I have seen them on the beach busily search- 
ing among the seaweed for small shell-fish and animalcules ; 
and, in country roads, have observed that they visit the drop- 
pings of horses and cattle for the seeds contained in them. 

By the middle of March, the Shore-larks leave New Eng- 
land for the North, where they breed, and spend the summer. 
Auduboii says, of their breeding habits, 

" The Shore-lark breeds on the high and desolate tracts of 
Labrador, in the vicinity of the sea. The face of the country 
appears as if formed of one undulated expanse of dark granite, 
covered with mosses and lichens, varying in size and color ; some 
green, others as white as snow, and others again of every tint, and 
disposed in large patches or tufts. It is on the latter that the Lark 
places her nest, which is disposed with so much care, while the moss 
so resembles the bird in hue, that, unless you almost tread upon her 
as she sits, she seems to feel secure, and remains unmoved. Should 
you, however, approach so near, she flutters away, feigning lameness 
so cunningly that none but one accustomed to the sight can refrain 
from pursuing her. The male immediately joins her in mimic 
wretchedness, uttering a note so soft and plaintive that it requires 
a strong stimulation to force the naturalist to rob the poor birds of 
their treasure. 

" The nest, which is embedded in the moss to its edges, is com- 
posed of fine grasses, circularly disposed, and forming a bed about 
two inches thick, with a lining of grouse-feathers and those of other 
birds. In the beginning of July, the eggs are deposited. They 
are four or five in number, large, grayish, and covered with numer- 
ous pale-blue and brown spots. The young leave the nest be- 
fore they are able to fly, and follow their parents over the moss, 
where they are fed about a week. They run nimbly, emit a soft 
prep, and squat closely at the first appearance of danger. If ob- 
served and pursued, they open their wings to aid them in their 
escape, and, separating, make off with great celerity. On such 
occasions, it is difficult to secure more than one of them, unless 
several persons be present, when each can pursue a bird. The 



282 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

parents, all this time, are following the enemy overhead, lamenting 
the danger to which their young are exposed. In several instances, 
the old bird followed us almost to our boat, alighting occasionally 
on a projecting crag before us, and entreating us, as it were, to 
restore its offspring. By the first of August, many of the young 
are fully fledged, and the different broods are seen associating 
together to the number of forty, fifty, or more. They now gradu- 
ally remove to the islands of the coast, where they remain until 
their departure, which takes place in the beginning of September. 
They start at the dawn of day, proceed on their way south at a 
small elevation above the water, and fly in so straggling a manner 
that they can scarcely be said to move in flocks." 

A number of eggs in my collection, from Wisconsin and 
Illinois, where these birds breed in considerable numbers, 
are of a faint grayish-brown color, and marked with numer- 
ous dots and spots of umber, of different shades, over the 
entire surface of the egg. On one or two specimens, these 
markings are confluent into coarser blotches of the two 
shades of umber and lilac. The greatest dimensions of my 
specimens are .93 by .65 inch ; the least dimensions, .85 
by .63 inch. 



THE PINE GROSBEAK. 283 



FAMILY FRINGILLIDJE. THE SEED-EATERS. 

Primaries nine ; bill very short, abruptly conical and robust ; commissure strongly 
angulated at base of bill ; tarsi sctitellate anteriorly, but the sides with two undivided 
plates meeting behind along the median line, as a sharp posterior ridge. * 

Sub-Family COCCOTHRAUSTIN^E. The Finches. 

Wings very long and much pointed, generally one-third longer than the more or 
less forked tail; first quill usually nearly as long or longer than the second; ter- 
tiaries but little longer, or equal to the secondaries, and always much exceeded by 
the primaries; bill very variable in shape and size, the upper mandible, however, as 
broad as the lower; nostrils rather more lateral than usual, and always more or less 
concealed by a series of small bristly feathers applied along the base of the upper 
mandible; no bristles at the base of the bill; feet short and rather weak; hind claw 
usually longer than the middle anterior one, sometimes nearly the same size. 

PINICOLA, VIEILLOT. 

Pinicola, VIEILLOT, Ois. Am. Sept., I. (1807). 

Bill short, nearly as high as long, upper outline much curved from the base; the 
margins of the mandibles rounded; the commissure gently concave, and abruptly 
deflexed at the tip; base of the upper mandible much concealed by the bristly feath- 
ers covering the basal third ; tarsus rather shorter than the middle toe ; lateral toe 
short, but their long claws reach the base of the middle one, which is longer than 
the hind claw; wings moderate, the first quill rather shorter than the second, third, 
and fourth ; tail rather shorter than the wings, nearly even. 

But one species of this genus belongs to the American fauna, and is closely allied 
to, if not identical with, that belonging to the northern portions of the Old World. 

PINICOLA CANADENSIS Cabanis. 
The Pine Grosbeak. 

Pinicola Canadensis, Cabanis. Mus. Hein. (1851), 167. 
Loxia enucleator, Wilson. Am. Orn., I. (1808) 80. 
Pyrrhula enucleatvr, Audubon. Orn. Biog., IV. (1838) 414. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill and legs black; general color carmine-red, not continuous above, however, 
except on the head ; the feathers showing brownish centres on the back, where, too, 
the red is darker; loral region, base of lower jaw all round, sides and posterior part 
of body, with under tail coverts, ashy, whitest behind ; wing with two white bands 

1 See Introduction, and vol. IX. Pacific R.R. Reports. 



284 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

across the tips of the greater and middle coverts ; the outer edges of the quills also 
white, broadest on the tertiaries. 

Female, ashy ; brownish above, tinged with greenish-yellow beneath ; top of head, 
rump, and upper tail coverts brownish gamboge-yellow; wings as in the male. 

Length, about eight and fifty one-hundredths inches ; wing, four and fifty one- 
hundredths; tail, four inches. 

A LTHOUGH we find in Yen-ill's list of birds found at 
*L\- Norway, Me., that this species is there a very common 
winter visitor, my experience has been, that it is an ex- 
tremely rare one in Massachusetts, and is only found with 
us in very severe seasons. 

This winter (1866-67), they have been very abundant, 
and good opportunities have been obtained for studying 
their habits. 

Like other northern species, the Pine Grosbeak is very 
tame and familiar while here in winter. Mr. Maynard, of 
Newtonville, Mass., informs me, that he has repeatedly, 
during this season, captured specimens in his hands, and 
has had no difficulty in slipping a noose over their heads, as 
the birds were employed in opening the pine seeds, or eating 
the berries of the cedar ; and he has now in captivity a 
number of specimens that are exceedingly tame and inter- 
esting, feeding readily on various seeds and fruits. A pair 
that I have in my possession, which he captured, are so 
tame that they take food from my hand, and even perch 
upon my finger. Their song is a soft, pleasing warble, not 
unlike that of the canary. 

Both sexes have a number of call-notes, and they keep up 
a continuous twitter through the day : they are always lively 
and good-tempered, and are really entertaining pets. 

Mr. Wheelwright, in his valuable and exceedingly inter- 
esting book, " A Spring and Summer in Lapland," gives 
the following account of the habits of the European Pine 
Grosbeak, a bird nearly allied to, if not identical with, our 
own : " By the first week in May, they had paired ; and we 
took our first nest on June 4, with three eggs, in a small fir, 
about ten feet from the ground, on the side of a small fell, 



THE PURPLE FINCH. 285 

in by no means a large wood : and I may observe, that all 
the nests we took were built in small firs, never high from the 
ground, or in deep woods, and generally in conspicuous situa- 
tions. The nest is neither large nor deep, but very com- 
pactly and cleanly built, like basket-work, the outside walling 
of very fine fir branches and thin cranberry fibres tightly 
interlaced, and lined with fine stiff grass and a little hair. 
The eggs vary much, both in size and coloring ; but are 
usually of a pale blue-green ground-color, blotched and lined 
with light-purple and dark burnt-umber spots and pricks, 
always thickest towards the large end. Average size, 1 inch 
by .75 inch." 

The food of the Grosbeak is not, as in the Crossbills, from 
the seed of the fir cones, but the small buds or embryo of the 
young branches which shoot out from the lateral branches 
of the fir ; but they can pick out the seeds from the cones, 
both of the pine and fir, quite as cleverly as the Crossbills. 

For a very full and interesting description of the habits 
of this species, I will refer the reader to vol. IV. Audubon's 
Am. Orn. Biog., p. 414. 

CARPODACUS, KAUP. 

Carpodacus, KAUP, " Entw. Europ. Thierw., 1829." ( Type Loxia erythrina, Pall. ) 
Bill short, stout, vaulted ; the culmen decurved towards the end ; the commis- 
sure nearly straight to the slightly decurved end; a slight development of bristly 
feathers along the sides of the bill, concealing the nostrils ; tarsus shorter than the 
middle toe; lateral claws reaching to the base of the middle one; claw of hind toe 
much curved, smaller than the middle one, and rather less than the digital portion ; 
wings long and pointed, reaching to the middle of the tail, which is considerably 
shorter than the wing, and moderately forked ; colors red, or red and brown. 

CARPODACUS PURPUREUS. Gray. 
The Purple Finch. 

Fringilla purpurea, Wilson. Am. Orn., I. (1808) 119. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1831) 
24; V. 200. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Second quill longest ; first shorter than third, considerably longer than the fourth ; 
body crimson, palest on the rump and breast, darkest across the middle of back and 
wing coverts, where the feathers have dusky centres ; the red extends below continu- 



286 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

ously to the lower part of the breast, and in spots to the tibiae ; the belly and under tail 
cove'rts white, streaked faintly with brown, except in the very middle ; edges of wings 
and tail featliers brownish-red; lesser coverts like the back; two reddish bands across 
the wings (over the ends "of the middle and greater coverts); lores dull-grayish. 

Female olivaceous-brown, brighter on the rump; beneath white; all the feathers 
everywhere streaked with brown, except, on the middle of the belly and under coverts, 
a superciliary light stripe. 

Length, six and twenty-five one-hundredths inches; wing, three and thirty-four 
one-hundredths; tail, two and fifty one-hundredths; bill, above, forty-six one-hun- 
dredths of an inch. 

This species, although quite common in many localities 
of New England, is very irregularly distributed. For in- 
stance, it breeds abundantly in and near Cambridge, Mass., 
but is not found in any other part of the State in any thing 
like the abundance that it is there. In that locality, it is 
one of the most common birds breeding ; in other localities, it 
is occasionally found in only detached pairs. So, in Maine, 
it is common in the neighborhood of the Umbagog lakes ; but 
elsewhere it is not often seen. There seems to be, as Mr. 
Allen justly remarks, a great increase of this species within 
the last few years ; and it is beginning to be one of our most 
common species. The birds separate into pairs soon after 
their arrival, about the middle of April, but do not com- 
mence building before the middle of May. They are occa- 
sionally resident here through the mild winter ; but, as a 
general thing, they arrive in New England in flocks of ten 
or a dozen about the last of March. The nest is usually 
built in a pine or cedar tree, and is sometimes thirty or even 
forty feet from the ground, oftener about fifteen or twenty. 
It is constructed of fine roots and grasses, and is lined with 
horsehair and hogs' bristles. One specimen in my collection 
has the cast-off skin of a snake woven in the rest of the 
fabric ; and I have seen nests lined with mosses. Generally, 
hairs of different animals form the lining, and roots and 
grass the main structure. 

The eggs are of a beautiful bluish-green color, and marked 
with spots and streaks of black : their form is a sharply 
pointed oval, and their dimensions vary from .94 by .64 inch 



THE PURPLE FINCH. 287 

to .88 by .60 inch. Two broods are often reared in the 
season. 

This species is one of the few injurious birds that we have ; 
and, although it has a beautiful warbling song, and is alto- 
gether a fine-looking bird, it is much disliked in the country 
in consequence of its bad habit of cutting off and eating 
the buds and blossoms of fruit-trees. Wilson says of this 
habit, - 

" This is a winter bird of passage, coining to us in large flocks 
from the North, in September and October ; great numbers remain- 
ing with us in Pennsylvania during the whole winter, feeding on 
the seeds of the poplar, button-wood, juniper, cedar, and on those 
of many rank weeds that flourish in rich bottoms and along the 
margin of creeks. When the season is very severe, they proceed 
to the South, as far at least as Georgia, returning North early in 
April. They now frequent the elm-trees, feeding on the slender 
but sweet covering of the flowers ; and, as soon as the cherries put 
out their blossoms, feed almost exclusively on the stamina of the 
flowers : afterwards, the apple-blossoms are attacked in the same 
manner ; and their depredations on these continue till they disap- 
pear, which is usually about the 10th or middle of May. I have 
been told that they sometimes breed in the northern parts of New 
York, but have never met with their nests. About the middle of 
September, I found these birds numerous on Long Island, and 
around Newark in New Jersey. They fly at a considerable height 
in the air ; and their note is a single chink, like that of the Rice- 
bird. They possess great boldness and spirit, and, when caught, 
bite violently, and hang by the bill from your hand, striking with 
great fury ; but they are soon reconciled to confinement, and in a 
day or two are quite at home. I have kept a pair of these birds 
upwards of nine months to observe their manners. One was caught 
in a trap, the other was winged with the gun : both are now as 
familiar as if brought up from the nest by the hand, and seem to 
prefer hemp-seed and cherry-blossoms to all other kinds of food. 
Both male and female, though not crested, are almost constantly 
in the habit of erecting the feathers of the crown. They appear to 
be of a tyrannical and domineering disposition: for they nearly 



288 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

killed an Indigo-bird, and two or three others, that were occasion- 
ally placed with them, driving them into a corner of the cage, 
standing on them, and tearing out their feathers, striking them on 
the head, munching their wings, &c., till I was obliged to interfere ; 
and, even if called to, the aggressor would only turn up a malicious 
eye to me for a moment, and renew his outrage as before. They are 
a hardy, vigorous bird. In the month of October, about the time 
of their first arrival, I shot a male, rich in plumage, and plump in 
flesh, but which wanted one leg, that had been taken off a little 
above the knee: the wound had healed so completely, and was 
covered with so thick a skin, that it seemed as though it had been 
so for years. Whether this mutilation was occasioned by a shot, or 
in party quarrels of its own, I could not determine : but our invalid 
seemed to have used his stump either in hopping or resting ; for it 
had all the appearance of having been brought in frequent contact 
with bodies harder than itself." 



CHRYSOMITRIS, BOIE. 

Chrysomitris, BOIE, Isis (1828), 322. (Type Fringitta spinus, Linnaeus.) 
Bill rather acutely conic, the tip not very sharp; the culmen slightly convex at 
the tip; the commissure gently curved; nostrils concealed; obsolete ridges on the 
upper mandible; tarsi shorter than the middle toe; outer toe rather the longer, 
reaching to the base of the middle one ; claw of hind toe shorter than the digital 
portion; wings and tail as in Aegiothus. 

The colors are generally yellow, with black on the crown, throat, back, wings, 
and tail, varied sometimes with white. 



CHRYSOMITRIS TRISTIS. Bonaparte. 
The Yellow-bird; Thistle-bird. 

Fringilla tristls, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 320. Wils. Am. Orn., I. (1808) 20. 
Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1831) 172; V. 510. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bright gamboge-yellow; crown, wings, and tail, black; lesser wing coverts, 
band across the end of greater ones, ends of secondaries and tertiaries, inner mar- 
gins of tail feathers, upper and under tail coverts, and tibia, white. Female re- 
placing the yellow of the male by a greenish-olive color. 

Length, five and twenty-five one-hundredths inches; wing, three inches. 

This well-known bird is a very common summer inhab- 
itant of all New England, and in the southern districts 



THE YELLOW-BIRD. 289 

remains through the year. Notwithstanding its being here 
through the early spring, it does not begin to build before 
the middle of June. The earliest nest that I ever heard of 
was found June the 10th, and very few are found as early 
as the middle of that month. The nest is usually placed in 
a forked branch in an apple-tree in the orchard, sometimes 
in a maple or birch tree near the roadside. It is constructed 
of soft strips of the cedar and grape-vine bark: these are 
very neatly woven together into a compact structure, which 
is deeply hollowed, and lined with soft down from the 
thistle, and sometimes a few feathers. The eggs are 
usually four in number : their form is generally oval, 
and their color a bluish-white. Dimensions vary from .68 
by .53 inch to .62 by .50 inch. But one brood is reared in 
the summer. 

The habits of this bird are so well known that I will not 
give them an extended notice here. It seems to be a per- 
sistently gregarious species : for, even in the breeding 
season, several families are usually found in one neighbor- 
hood ; and the males often assemble together, and pass the 
time in collecting food, trimming their feathers, and bath- 
ing. In fact, this bird seems to be more of a dandy, and 
consequently less of a family man, than most of our other 
species ; and I have noticed that he leaves the greater part 
of the burden of the family cares upon the shoulders of his 
attentive mate. 

When the season of incubation has passed, the birds 
assemble in flocks of from ten to twenty or thirty in num- 
ber, and frequent the gardens and stubble-fields, where they 
subsist upon the seeds of various weeds and grasses. They 
have a short note like che wee, which is uttered often, 
sometimes in a drawling, plaintive key, and at other times 
in a brisk, cheerful tone. Their flight is undulating and 
irregular, and resembles very much that of the Wood- 
peckers. When on the wing, they have a short, simple 
chatter, like 'che 'chS 'che 'che, uttered rapidly, and with 

19 



290 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

emphasis on the second syllable. Occasionally, the male 
emits a continued warbling song, very similar to that of the 
Canary-bird ; and I have heard one of this species sing in 
confinement almost as sweetly and often as its more familiar 
and domesticated relative. 

CHRYSOMITKIS PINUS, Bonaparte. 
The Pine Finch. 

Fringillapims, Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 133. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 
455; V. 509. 

Chrysomitris pinus, Bonaparte. Consp. (1850), 515. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Tail deeply forked; above brownish-olive; beneath whitish, every feather 
streaked distinctly with dusky ; concealed bases of tail feathers and quills, together 
with their inner edges, sulphur-yellow ; outer edges of quills and tail feathers yel- 
lowish-green ; two brownish- white bands on the wing. 

Length, four and seventy-five one-hundredths inches ; wing, three inches ; tail, 
two and twenty one-hundredths inches. 

This bird is found in New England, usually as a winter 
visitor. While here, it has all the habits of the preceding 
species, and might, at a little distance, be mistaken for that 
bird. The Pine Finch, as its name implies, prefers the 
groves and forests of pines to other trees ; and it is found in 
all our pine woods in flocks of twenty or thirty, where it 
feeds on the seeds contained in the cones on these trees. 
It has been known to breed in Cambridge, in this State ; but 
I know nothing of its breeding habits. 

CURVTROSTRA, SCOPOLI. 

Loxia, LINNJSUS, Syst. Nat., 1758. (Type Loxia curvirostra, L. Not of 1735, 
which has for type Loxia coccolkraustes, L.) 

Curvirostra, SCOPOLI, 1777. (Type L. curvirostra.) 

Mandibles much elongated, compressed, and attenuated; greatly curved or 
falcate, the points crossing or overlapping to a greater or less degree ; tarsi very 
short; claws all very long, the lateral extending beyond the middle of the central; 
hind claw longer than its digit; wings very long and pointed, reaching beyond the 
middle of the narrow, forked tail. 

Colors reddish in the male. 



THE BED CROSSBILL. 291 

The elongated, compressed, fklcate-curved, and overlapping mandibles readily 
characterize this genus among birds. 

The United-States species of Curvirostra are readily distinguished by the pres- 
ence of white bands on the wing in Leucoptera and their absence in Americana. 



CURVIROSTRA AMERICANA. Wilson. 
The Red Crossbill. 

Curvirostra Americana, Wilson. Am. Orn., IV. (1811) 44. 
Loxia curvirostra. Aud. Biog., II. (1834) 559; V. 511. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Male dull-red ; darkest across the back ; wings and tail dark blackish-brown. 

Female dull greenish-olive above, each feather with a dusky centre ; rump and 
crown bright greenish-yellow ; beneath grayish ; tinged, especially on the sides of 
the body, with greenish-yellow; young entirely brown; paler beneath. 

The immature and young birds exhibit all imaginable combinations of the colors 
of the male and female. They all agree in the entire absence of white bands on 
the wings. 

Male about six inches ; wing, three and thirty one-hundredths inches ; tail, two 
and twenty-five one-hundredths inches. 

This bird is very irregularly distributed in New Eng- 
land, usually as a winter visitor. Sometimes it is quite 
rare at that season in all sections ; and occasionally it 
is very abundant. It also occurs here during the sum- 
mer ; and, according to both Mr. Allen and Mr. Yerrill, it 
sometimes breeds here. Wilson says of the habits of this 
bird, 

" On first glancing at the bill of this extraordinary bird, one is 
apt to pronounce it deformed and monstrous : but on attentively 
observing the use to which it is applied by the owner, and the dex- 
terity with which he detaches the seeds of the pine-tree from the 
cone, and from the husks that enclose them, we are obliged to con- 
fess, on this, as on many other occasions where we have judged 
too hastily of the operations of nature, that no other conformation 
could have been so excellently adapted to the purpose ; and that 
its deviation from the common form, instead of being a defect or 
monstrosity, as the celebrated French naturalist insinuates, is a 
striking proof of the wisdom and kind superintending care of the 
great Creator. 



292 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

"This species is a regular inhabitant of almost all our pine 
forests situated north of 40, from the beginning of September to 
the middle of April. It is not improbable that some of them re- 
main during the summer within the territory of the United States 
to breed. Their numbers must, however, be comparatively few, as 
I have never yet met with any of them in summer, though lately 
I took a journey to the Great Pine Swamp beyond Pocano Moun- 
tain, in Northampton County, Pa., in the month of May, expressly 
for that purpose; and ransacked, for six or seven days, the 
gloomy recesses of that extensive and desolate morass, without 
being able to discover a single Crossbill. In fall, however, as 
well as in winter and spring, this tract appears to be their favorite 
rendezvous ; particularly about the head waters of the Lehigh, the 
banks of the Tobyhanna, Tunkhannock, and Bear Creek, where I 
have myself killed them at these seasons. They then appear in 
large flocks, feeding on the seeds of the hemlock and white-pine ; 
have a loud, sharp, and not unmusical note ; chatter as they fly ; 
alight, during the prevalence of deep snows, before the door of the 
hunter, and around the house, picking off the clay with which 
the logs are plastered, and searching in corners where urine, or any 
substance of a saline quality, had been thrown. At such times, 
they are so tame as only to settle on the roof of the cabin when 
disturbed, and, a moment after, descend to feed as before. They 
are then easily caught in traps, and will frequently permit one to 
approach so near as to knock them down with a stick. Those 
killed and opened at such times are generally found to have the 
stomach filled with a soft, greasy kind of earth or clay. When 
kept in a cage, they have many of the habits of the Parrot ; often 
climbing along the wires, and using their feet to grasp the cones in, 
while taking out the seeds." 

Of its breeding habits I know nothing. Nuttall says, 

" They often breed in winter in more temperate countries, as in 
January and February ; and the young fly in March. The nest 
is said to be fixed in the forks of fir-trees ; and the eggs, four or 
five, are of a greenish-gray, with a circle of reddish-brown spots, 
points, and lines, disposed chiefly at the larger end : the lines also 
often extend over the whole surface of the egg." 



THE WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL. 



293 



CURVIROSTRA LEUCOPTERA. Wilson. 
The White-winged Crossbill. 

Loxia leueqptera, Audubon. Orn. Biog., IV. (1838) 467. 
Curvirostra leucqptera, Wilson. Am. Orn., IV. (1811) 48. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill greatly compressed, and acute towards the point; male carmine-red, tinged 
with dusky across the back; the sides of body under the wings streaked with 
brown; from the middle of belly to the tail coverts whitish, the latter streaked 
with brown; scapulars, wings, and tail, black; the broad bands on the wings 
across the ends of greater and median coverts ; white spots on the end of the inner 
tertiaries. 

Female brownish, tinged with olive-green in places ; feathers of the back and 
crown with dusky centres; rump bright brownish-yellow. 

Length, about six and twenty-five one-hundredths inches ; wing, three and fifty 
one-hundredths inches ; tail, two and sixty one-hundredths inches. 

This beautiful bird seems to 
be much less frequent in its 
winter visits to New England 
than the preceding. It has all 
the general characteristics of 
that bird. In May, in the Hud- 
son's Bay country, according 
to Mr. Hutchins, it builds its 
nest in a pine-tree. This is 
constructed of grass, mud, and 
feathers, and is lined with moss 
and other soft materials. The 
female lays five white eggs, 
marked with yellowish spots. 




^EGIOTHUS, CABANIS. 

^Egiothus, CABANIS, Mus. Hein., 1851, 161. (Type Fringilla linaria, Linn.) 
Bill very short, conical, and acutely pointed, the outlines even concave; the 
commissure straight ; the base of the upper mandible and the nostrils concealed by 
stiff, appressed bristly feathers; middle of the mandible having several ridges 
parallel with the culmen ; inner lateral toe rather the longer, its claw reaching the 
middle of the middle claw ; the hind toe rather longer, its claw longer than the digi- 
tal portion ; wings very long, reaching the middle of the tail ; second quill a little 
longer than the first and third; tail deeply forked. 



294 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

JEGIOTHUS LINAEIA. Cabanis. 

The Lesser Redpoll. 

Fringilla linaria, Linnzeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 322. Aud. Orn. Biog., IV. 
(1838) 533. 

JSgiothus linaria, Cabanis. Mus. Hein. (1851), 161. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Above light-yellowish, each feather streaked with dark-brown; crown dark- 
crimson ; upper part of breast and sides of the body tinged with a lighter tint of the 
same ; the rump and under tail coverts also similar, but still less vivid, and with 
dusky streaks ; rest of under parts white, streaked on the sides with brown ; loral 
region and chin dusky; cheeks (brightest over the eye), and a narrow front, 
whitish ; wing feathers edged externally, and tail feathers all round with white ; two 
vellowish-white bands across the wing coverts; secondaries and tertiaries edged 
broadly with the same; bill yellowish, tinged with brown on the culmen and 
gonys; the basal bristles brown, reaching over half the bill. 

The specimen described above is a male in winter dress. The spring plumage 
has much more of the red. The female winter specimens lack the rose of the 
under parts and rump; the breast is streaked across with dusky. 

Length, five and fifty one-hundredths inches ; wing, three and ten one-hundredths 
inches ; tail, two and seventy one-hundredths inches. 

This species is a pretty common winter visitor in all parts 
of New England. It congregates in large flocks, which 
frequent old fields and pastures and stubble-fields, and feed 
on the seeds of weeds and grasses. It has, while with us, 
the note and general habits of the Goldfinch and Pine 
Finch, and might'easily, at a little distance, be mistaken for 
those birds. They seem fond of the seeds of the white 
birch ; and they cluster so thick on a branch of this tree, 
while securing the seeds, that I have killed as many as a 
dozen at a shot. Mr. Selby's account of the nest and eggs 
is as follows : 

" It is only known in the southern parts of Britain as a winter 
visitant ; and is at that period gregarious, and frequently taken, in 
company with the other species, by the bird-catchers, by whom it is 
called the Stone Redpoll. In the northern counties of England, 
and in Scotland and its isles, it is resident through the year. It 
retires, during the summer, to the underwood that covers the bases 
of many of our mountains and hills, and that often fringes the 



THE MEALY REDPOLL. 295 

banks of their precipitous streams ; in which sequestered situa- 
tions it breeds. The nest is built in a bush or low tree (such as 
willow, alder, or hazel), of moss and the stalks of dry grass, inter- 
mixed with down from the catkin of the willow, which also forms 
the lining, and renders it a particularly soft and warm receptacle 
for the eggs and young. From this substance being a constant 
material of the nest, it follows that the young are produced late 
in the season, and are seldom able to fly before the end of June or 
the beginning of July. The eggs are four or five in number : their 
color pale bluish-green, spotted with orange-brown, principally 
towards the larger end. In winter, the Lesser Redpoll descends to 
the lower grounds in considerable flocks ; frequenting woods and 
plantations, more especially such as abound in birch or alder trees, 
the catkins of which yield it a plentiful supply of food. When 
feeding, its motion affords both interest and amusement ; since, in 
order to reach the catkins, which generally grow near the extremi- 
ties of the smaller branches, it is obliged, like the Titmouse, to 
hang with its back downwards, and assume a variety of constrained 
attitudes : and, when thus engaged, it is so intent upon its work, as 
frequently to allow itself to be taken by a long stick smeared with 
bird-lime ; in which way I have occasionally captured it when hi 
want of specimens for examination. It also eats the buds of trees, 
and (when in flocks) proves in this way seriously injurious to 
young plantations. Its call-note is very frequently repeated when 
on wing, and by .this it may be always distinguished from the other 
species. The notes it produces during the pairing season, although 
few, and not delivered in continuous song, are sweet and pleasing." 

JEGIOTHUS CANESCENS. Cabanis. 
The Mealy Redpoll. 

jEgiothus canescens, Cabanis. Mus. Hem. (1851), 161. 
IFringilla borealis, Audubon. On. Biog., V. (1839) 87. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Size large ; bill short ; claws elongated ; rump white (in the spring, male tinged 
with rose), never streaked ; the quills broadly margined with white. 
Length, six inches ; tail, three and seventeen one-hundredths. 

This bird occurs only as an exceedingly rare winter visi- 
tor in New England. I have never met with it myself, but 



296 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

Mr. Yerrill says that it is found rarely in Maine. I know 
nothing of its habits, nest, or eggs. 

PLECTROPHANES, MEYER. 

Plectropkanes, MEYER, Taschenbuch (1810). Agassiz. (Type Emberiza nivalis.) 
Bill variable, conical, the lower mandible higher than the upper; the sides of 
both mandibles (in the typical species) guarded by a closely applied brush of stiffened 
bristly feathers directed forwards, and in the upper jaw concealing the nostrils; the 
outlines of the bill nearly straight, or slightly curved; the lower jaw considerably 
broader at the base than the upper, and wider than the gonys is long ; tarsi consid- 
ably longer than the middle toe; the lateral toes nearly equal (the inner claw 
largest), and reaching to the base of the middle claw ; the hinder claw very long ; 
moderately curved and acute ; considerably longer than its toe ; the toe and claw 
together reaching to the middle of the middle claw, or beyond its tip ; wings very 
long and much pointed, reaching nearly to the end of the tail ; the first quill longest, 
the others rapidly graduated ; the tertiaries a little longer than the secondaries ; tail 
moderate, about two-thirds as long as the wings ; nearly even, or slightly emargi- 
nated. 

PLECTROPHANES NIVALIS. Meyer. 
The Snow Bunting. 

Emberiza nivalis, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 308. Wils. Am. Orn., III. 
(1811) 86; Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 515; V. (1839) 496. 
"Plectrophanes nivalis, Meyer." Bon. List (1838). 

DESCRIPTION. 

Colors, in full plumage, entirely black and white ; middle of back between scapu- 
lars, terminal half of primaries and tertiaries, and two innermost tail feathers, black ; 
elsewhere pure-white; legs black at all seasons. In winter dress white beneath; 
the head and rump yellowish-brown, as also some blotches on the side of the breast; 
middle of back brown, streaked with black ; white on wings and tail much more 
restricted. 

This species varies much in color; and the male in full plumage is seldom, if ever, 
seen within the limits of the United States. 

Length, about six and seventy-five one-hundredths inches ; wing, four and thirty- 
five one-hundredths ; tail, three and five one-hundredths inches ; first quill longest. 

This is a very common winter visitor in all parts of New 
England, but is most abundant in localities near the sea- 
coast. I have seen flocks of hundreds of individuals in the 
marshes in Plymouth County, Mass., and have almost 
always noticed that they were accompanied by Shore-larks 
and Redpolls. They feed on seeds of various wild plants 



THE SNOW BUNTING. 



297 



and small shell-fish, and become, during their stay here, 
very fat, and are accounted as delicate eating by epicures, 
for whose tables they are killed in great numbers. 

The following interesting account of the habits of this 
species is by Wilson. It is partly compiled from the observa- 
tions of Mr. Pennant : 

" These birds," says Mr. Pennant, " inhabit, not only .Greenland, 
but even the dreadful climate of Spitzbergen, where vegetation is 
nearly extinct, and scarcely any but 
cryptogamous plants are found. It 
therefore excites wonder, how birds 
which are graminivorous in every 
other than those frost-bound regions 
subsist, yet are there found in great 
flocks, both on the land and ice of 
Spitzbergen. They annually pass 
to this country by way of Norway ; 
for, in the spring, flocks innumer- 
able appear, especially on the Nor- 
wegian isles, continue only three 
weeks, and then at once disappear. 
As they do not breed in Hudson's 
Bay, it is certain that many retreat 
to this last of lands, and totally uninhabited, to perform, in full 
security, the duties of love, incubation, and nutrition. That they 
breed in Spitzbergen is very probable; but we are assured that 
they do so in Greenland. They arrive there in April, and make 
their nests in the fissures of the rocks on the mountains in May : 
the outside of their nest is grass, the middle of feathers, and the 
lining the down of the arctic fox. They lay five eggs, white, 
spotted with brown : they sing finely near their nest. 

" They are caught by the boys in autumn, when they collect 
near the shores in great flocks, in order to migrate, and are eaten 
dried. 

" In Europe, they inhabit, during summer, the most naked Lap- 
land alps ; and descend in rigorous seasons into Sweden, and fill the 
roads and fields, on which account the Dalecarlians call them 




298 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

Mlwarsfogel, or bad-weather birds; the Uplanders, Hardwars- 
fogel, expressive of the same. The Laplanders style them Alaipg. 
Leems remarks, I know not with what foundation, that they fatten 
on the flowing of the tides in Finmark, and grow lean on the ebb. 
The Laplanders take them in great numbers in hair springs, for the 
tables ; their flesh being very delicate. 

" They seem to make the countries within the whole arctic circle 
their summer residence, from whence they overflow the more south- 
ern countries in amazing multitudes at the setting-in of winter in 
the frigid zone. In the winter of 1778-79, they came in such mul- 
titudes into Birsa, one of the Orkney Islands, as to cover the whole 
barony ; yet, of all the numbers, hardly two agreed in colors. 

" Lapland, and perhaps Iceland, furnishes the north of Britain 
with the swarms that frequent these parts during winter, as low 
as the Cheviot Hills, in latitude 52 32'; their resting-places, the 
Feroe Isles, Shetland, and the Orkneys. The Highlands of Scot- 
land, in particular, abound with them. Their flights are immense ; 
and they mingle so closely together in form of a ball, that the 
fowlers make great havoc among them. They arrive lean, soon 
become very fat, and are delicious food. They either arrive in the 
Highlands very early, or a few breed there ; for I had one shot for 
me, at Invercauld, the 4th of August. But there is a certainty of 
their migration; for multitudes of them fall, wearied with their 
passage, on the vessels that are sailing through the Pentland 
Firth. 

" In their summer dress, they are sometimes seen in the south of 
England, the climate not having severity sufficient to affect the 
colors; yet now and then a milk-white one appears, which is 
usually mistaken for a white Lark. 

" Russia and Siberia receive them in their severe seasons 
annually, in amazing flocks, overflowing almost all Russia. They 
frequent the villages, and yield a most luxurious repast. They vary 
there infinitely in their winter colors, are pure-white, speckled, and 
even quite brown. This seems to be the influence of difference of 
age, more than of season. Germany has also its share of them. 
In Austria, they are caught and fed with millet, and afford the 
epicure a treat equal to that of the Ortolan. 

" These birds appear in the northern districts of the United States 



THE SNOW BUNTING. 299 

early in December, or with the first heavy snow, particularly if 
drifted by high winds. They are usually called the White Snowbird, 
to distinguish them from the small dark-bluish Snowbird already 
described. Their numbers increase with the increasing severity of 
weather, and depth of snow. Flocks of them sometimes reach as 
far south as the borders of Maryland ; and the whiteness of their 
plumage is observed to be greatest towards the depth of winter. 
They spread over the Genesee country and the interior of the 
District of Maine, flying in close, compact bodies, driving about 
most in a high wind ; sometimes alighting near the doors, but sel- 
dom sitting long, being a roving, restless bird. In these plentiful 
regions, where more valuable game is abundant, they hold out no 
temptation to the sportsman or hunter ; and, except the few caught 
by boys in snares, no other attention is paid to them. They are, 
however, universally considered as the harbingers of severe cold 
weather. How far westward they extend I am unable to say. 
One of the most intelligent and expert hunters, who accompanied 
Captains Lewis and Clark on their expedition to the Pacific Ocean, 
informs me that he has no recollection of seeing these birds in any 
part of their tour, not even among the bleak and snowy regions of 
the Stony Mountains ; though the little blue one was in abundance. 
" The Snow Bunting derives a considerable part of its food from 
the seeds of certain aquatic plants, which may be one reason for its 
preferring these remote northern countries, so generally intersected 
with streams, ponds, lakes, and shallow arms of the sea, that proba- 
bly abound with such plants. In passing down the Seneca River 
towards Lake Ontario, late in the month of October, I was sur- 
prised by the appearance of a large flock of these birds, feeding on 
the surface of the water, supported on the tops of a growth of 
weeds that rose from the bottom, growing so close together that our 
boat could with great difficulty make its way through them. They 
were running about with great activity ; and those I shot and ex- 
amined were filled, not only with the seeds of this plant, but with a 
minute kind of shell-fish that adheres to the leaves. In this kind 
of aquatic excursions, they are doubtless greatly assisted by the 
length of their hind heel and claws. I also observed a few on 
Table Rock, above the Falls of Niagara, seemingly in search of the 
same kind of food. 



300 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

According to the statements of those traders who have resided 
near Hudson's Bay, the Snow Buntings are the earliest of their 
migratory birds; appearing there about the llth of April, staying 
about a month or five weeks, and proceeding farther north to breed. 
They return again in September, stay till November, when the 
severe frosts drive them southward." 

PLECTROPHANES LAPPONICUS. Selby. 
The Lapland Longspur. 

Erriberiza lapponica, Audubon. Orn. Biog., IV. (1838) 472. 
Plectrophanes lappvnicus, " Selby." Bon. List (1838). 

DESCRIPTION. 

First quill longest; legs black; head all round black, this extending as a semi- 
circular patch to the upper part of breast; sides of lower neck and under parts 
white, with black streaks on the sides, and spots -on the side of the breast ; a short 
brownish-white streak back of the eye ; a broad chestnut collar on the back of the 
neck; rest of upper parts brownish-yellow, streaked with dark-brown; outer tail 
feathers white, except on the basal portion of the inner web. 

This species is very seldom seen in full spring plumage in the United States. In 
perfect dress, the black of the throat probably extends further down over the breast. 
In winter, the black is more or less concealed by whitish tips to the feathers beneath, 
and by yellowish-brown on the crown. Some fall specimens, apparently females, 
show no black whatever on the throat, which, with the under parts generally, are 
dull-white, with a short black streak on each side of the throat. 

Length, about six and twenty-five one-hundredths inches ; wing, three and 
ninety one-hundredths; tail, two and eight one-hundredths. 

This bird is found only as an extremely rare winter 
visitor in New England. I have never known of more than 
a dozen being taken here, and those were in scattered par- 
ties of two or three in the winter of 1857. I know nothing 
whatever of its habits, and can give no description, from my 
own observation, of its nests and eggs. We are informed 
by Dr. Richardson, that it breeds in the moist meadows on 
the shores of the Arctic Sea. The nest is placed on a small 
hillock, among moss and stones ; is composed externally 
of the dry stems of grass, interwoven to a considerable 
thickness ; and lined, very neatly and compactly, with deer's 
hair. The eggs, usually seven, are pale ochre-yellow, 
spotted with brown. 



THE SAVANNAH SPARROW. 301 



Sub-Family SPIZELLIN^E. The Sparrows. 

Bill variable, usually almost straight ; sometimes curved ; commissure generally 
nearly straight, or slightly concave; upper mandible wider than lower; nostrils 
exposed; wings moderate; the outer primaries not much rounded; tail variable; 
feet large; tarsi mostly longer than the middle toe. 

The species are usually small, and of dull color. Nearly all are streaked on the 
back and crown ; often on the belly. None of the United-States species have any 
red, blue, or orange ; and the yellow, when present, is as a superciliary streak, or on 
the elbow edge of the wing. 



PASSERCULUS, BONAPARTE. 

Passerculus, BONAPARTE, Comp. List Birds (1838). (Type Fringilla Savanna.) 
Bill moderately conical; the lower mandible smaller; both outlines nearly 
straight; tarsus about equal to the'middle toe; lateral toes about equal, their claws 
falling far short of the middle one ; hind toe much longer than the lateral ones, 
reaching as far as the middle of the middle claw ; its claws moderately curved ; 
wings unusually long, reaching to the middle of the tail, and almost to the end of the 
upper coverts ; the tertials nearly or quite as long as the primaries ; the first primary 
longest; the tail is quite short, considerably shorter than the wings, as long as 
from the carpal joint to the end of the secondaries; it is emarginate, and slightly 
rounded; the feathers pointed and narrow. 

Entire plumage above, head, neck, back, and rump, streaked; thickly streaked 
beneath. 

PASSERCULUS SAVANNA. Bonaparte. 
The Savannah Sparrow. 

Fringilla Savanna, Wilson. Am. Orn., III. (1811) 55. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. 
(1834)63; V. (1839), 516. 

Passerculus Savanna, Bonaparte. List (1838). 

DESCRIPTION. 

Feathers of the upper parts generally with a central streak of blackish-brown ; 
the streaks of the back with a slight rufous suffusion laterally ; the feathers edged 
with gray, which is lightest on the scapulars; crown with a broad median stripe of 
yellowish-gray ; a superciliary streak from the bill to the back of the head, eyelids, 
and edge of the elbow, yellow ; a yellowish-white maxillary stripe curving behind 
the ear coverts, and margined above and below by brown; the lower margin is a 
series of thickly crowded spots on the sides of the throat, which are also found on 
the sides of the neck, across the upper part of the breast, and on the sides of the 
body ; a few spots on the throat and chin ; rest of under parts white ; outer tail 
feather and primary edged with white. 

Length, five and fifty one-hundredths inches; wing, two and seventy one-hun- 
dredths inches; tail, two and ten one-hundredths inches. 



302 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

This bird seems to be rather irregularly distributed 
throughout New England in the summer season. In the 
eastern part o'f Massachusetts, it is quite common ; in 
the western part, "chiefly a spring and summer visitant," 
but "not common." Mr. Allen has never found it breed- 
ing in the neighborhood of Springfield ; but, in the neighbor- 
hood of the seacoast in the same State, it is abundant in 
the breeding season. On the contrary, in Maine, it is not 
at all common near the seacoast ; but in the interior, even 
as far as the western borders, it is one of the most plentiful 
of Sparrows. It arrives in Massachusetts as early as the 
first week in April ; in Maine, seldom before the middle of 
that month. About the first week in May in Massachusetts, 
and later as we advance north, the birds commence build- 
ing. The nest is placed on the ground, usually under a 
tussock of grass : it is constructed of fine grasses and 
roots, which are bent and twined together rather neatly; 
and the whole is lined with hairlike roots and fine grass. 
The eggs are usually four in number, grayish-white in color, 
and covered irregularly with spots of umber-brown and lilac. 
Their form varies from long and slender to quite short 
and thick : their dimensions vary from .76 by .60 to .72 by 
.58 inch. Two broods are often reared in the season. This 
species rather prefers pastures and fields at a distance from 
houses for a home to their more immediate neighborhood. 

On the seaboard, this species is most often found on or 
near the sandy beaches, where it is observed busily glean- 
ing, in the seaweed and little bunches of beach-grass, the 
insects and mollusks that are found there. In the interior, 
it prefers the dry, sandy fields and pastures, where, running 
about with great rapidity, its white outer tail feathers spread, 
it is always industrious in its search for coleopterous insects 
and seeds. 

The female, when the nest is approached, leaves it, and 
runs limping off, her wings extended, uttering the chatter- 
ing cry peculiar to the Sparrows. 



THE GRASS FINCH. 303 

The male, during the mating and the early part of the 
breeding season, has a very sweet and pretty song which he 
chants most often at morning and early evening, and during 
dark and cloudy weather. 

This song is difficult of description : it resembles nearly 
the syllables 'chewee 'chewitt 'chewitt 'chewitt 'cheweet 'chewee, 
uttered slowly and plaintively. It has also a short chirp, 
quite faint, yet shrill, which, as Mr. Nuttall truly remarks, 
almost exactly resembles the chirping of a cricket. 

About the first week in October, this species gathers in 
small, detached flocks ; and, after frequenting the stubble- 
fields and gardens a week or two, the whole leave for the 
South. 

POOCLETES, BAIRD. 

Bill rather large ; upper outline slightly decurved towards the end, lower straight ; 
commissure slightly 'concave; tarsus about equal to the middle toe; outer toe a 
little longer than the inner, its claw reaching to the concealed base of the middle 
claw ; hind toe reaching to the middle of the middle claw ; wings unusually long, 
reaching to the middle of the tail, as far as the coverts, and pointed, the primaries 
considerably longer than the secondaries, which are not much surpassed by the 
tertiaries; second and third quills longest; first little shorter, about equal to the 
fourth, shorter than the tail; the outer feathers scarcely shorter; the feathers rather 
stiff, each one acuminate and sharply pointed ; the feathers broad nearly to the end, 
when they are obliquely truncate; streaked with brown above everywhere; beneath, 
on the breast and sides ; the lateral tail feather is white. 

POOCJETES GRAMINEUS. Baird. 
The Grass Finch; Bay-winged Bunting. 

Fringilla graminea, Gmelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 922. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. 
(1831) 473; V. 502. 

Emberiza graminea, Wilson. Am. Orn., IV. (1811) 51. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Tail feathers rather acute ; above light yellowish-brown ; the feathers everywhere 
streaked abruptly with dark-brown, even on the sides of the neck, which are paler; 
beneath yellowish-white ; on the breast and sides of neck and body streaked with 
brown ; a faint light superciliary and maxillary stripe ; the latter margined above 
and below with dark-brown; the upper stripe continued around the ear coverts, 
which are darker than the brown color elsewhere; wings with the shoulder light 
chestnut-brown, and with two dull-whitish bands along the ends of the coverts; the 
outer edge of the secondaries also is white ; outer tail feather, and edge and tip 
of the second, white. 



304 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

Length, about six and twenty-five one-hundredths inches ; wing, three and ten 
one-hundredths inches. 

Hub. United States from Atlantic to the Pacific; or else one species to the high 
central plains, and another from this to the Pacific. 

This Sparrow is abundantly distributed throughout New 
England in the breeding season. It arrives about the first 
week in April, and commences building about the last of 
that month in Massachusetts ; in Maine, about the first 
of June. The nest, like that of the preceding species, is 
built in open, dry pastures and fields, at the foot of a tuft 
of grass, and is composed of the same materials and con- 
structed in the same form as the others ; and I would here 
remark, that, of our New-England sparrows, it is impossible 
to distinguish most species, either in manner and material 
of nest, and form and color of eggs, in the great variations 
which exist in them. The descriptions already given, and 
those which follow, are made from the average specimens, 
or in the forms in which they are most often met. The 
eggs of the Grass Finch are usually about four in number : 
they are of a grayish, livid-white color, and marked irregu- 
larly with spots of obscure brown, over which are blotches 
of black. Dimensions of specimens from various localities 
vary from .88 by .60 to .76 by .58 inch. Two broods, and 
sometimes three, are reared in the season. 

The habits of this and the succeeding species so much 
resemble those of the preceding, that it is difficult to 
describe either so that they may be readily recognized. 
The present bird is more civilized in its habits, and usually 
resides much nearer the habitations of man than the others ; 
but in other respects it resembles them in all their charac- 
teristics. 

COTURNICULUS, BONAPARTE. 

Coterniculus, BONAPARTE, Geog. List (1838). (Type Fringilla passerina, Wils.) 
Bill very large and stout; the under mandible broader, but lower than the upper, 
which is considerably convex at the basal portion of its upper outline ; legs mod- 
erate, apparently not reaching to the end of the tail; the tarsus appreciably longer 



THE YELLOW-WINGED SPARROW. 305 

than ijie middle^toe ; the lateral toes equal, and with their claws falling decidedly 
short of the middle claw ; the hind toe intermediate between the two ; the wings are 
short and rounded, reaching to the base of the tail ; the tertiaries almost as long as 
the primaries; not much difference in the lengths of the primaries, although the 
outer three or four are slightly graduated ; the tail is short and narrow, decidedly 
shorter than the wing, graduated laterally, but slightly emarginate; the feathers all 
lanceolate and acute, but not stiffened, as in Ammodromus. 

The upper parts generally are streaked ; the blotches on the interscapular region 
very wide ; the breast and sides are generally streaked more or less distinctly ; the 
edge of the wing is yellow. 



COTURNICULUS PASSERINUS. Bonaparte. 
The Yellow-winged Sparrow. 

Fringilla passerina, Wilson. Am. Orn., III. (1811) 76. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. 
(1834) 180; V. 497. 

Coturniculus passerina, Bonaparte. List (1838). 

Fringilla Savanarum (Gmelin), Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 494. Ib. (2d ed., 
1840), 570. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Feathers of the upper parts brownish-rufous, margined narrowly and abruptly 
with ash-color; reddest on the lower part of the back and rump; the feathers all 
abruptly black in the central portion ; this color visible on the interscapular region, 
where the rufous is more restricted; crown blackish, with a central and superciliary 
stripe of yellowish tinged with brown, brightest in front of the eye ; bend of the 
wing bright-yellow; lesser coverts tinged with greenish-yellow; quills and tail 
feathers edged with whitish; tertiaries much variegated; lower parts brownish- 
yellow, nearly white on the middle of the belly; the feathers of the upper breast 
and sides of the body with obsoletely darker centres. 

Length, about five inches; wing, two and forty one-hundredths inches; tail, two 
inches. 

The young of this species has the upper part of the breast streaked with black, 
much more distinct than in the adult, and exhibiting a close resemblance to C. Hens- 
lorn. 

Specimens from the Far West have the reddish of the back considerably paler ; 
the light stripe on the head, with scarcely any yellow; a decided spot in front 
of the eye quite yellow. 

This bird is irregularly distributed. In Massachusetts it 
is rare near the seacoast, but in the western part is an 
" abundant summer visitant ; arrives about the first week 
in May, and leaves in autumn the earliest of the Sparrows." 
ALLEN. It is not included in Mr. Yen-ill's list of Maine 
birds ; and I have never met with it in that State or the 
other two northern ones, although it probably occurs there, 

20 



306 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

but not abundantly. The nest is built, like the two preced- 
ing species, on the ground, in the same localities, and of the 
same materials ; but the eggs are different, being pure-white 
in color, with thinly scattered spots of reddish-brown : they 
are usually five in number, and their dimensions vary from 
.78 by .60 to .74 by .58 inch. Two broods are often reared 
in the same season. Its habits are similar to those of the 
Savannah Sparrow. 

COTURNICULUS HENSLOWI. Bonaparte. 
Henslow's Bunting. 

Emberiza Henslowi, Audubon. Orn. Biog., I. (1831) 360. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 
App. 

Coturniculus Hensloivi, Bonaparte. List (1838). Ib., Consp. (1850), 481. 
FringiUa Henslowi, Nuttall. Man., I. (2d ed., 1840) 571. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Upper parts yellowish-brown ; the head, neck, and upper parts of back tinged 
with greenish-yellow ; interscapular feathers dark-brown, suffused externally with 
bright brownish-red ; each feather with grayish borders ; tertiaries, rump, and tail 
feathers abruptly dark-brown centrally, the color obscurely margined with dark-red ; 
crown with a broad black spotted stripe on each side, these spots continued down 
to the back; two narrow black maxillary stripes on each side the head, and an 
obscure black crescent behind the auriculars; under parts light brownish-yellow, 
paler on the throat and abdomen ; the upper part of the breast, and the sides of the 
body, conspicuously streaked with black; edge of wing yellow; a strong tinge of 
pale-chestnut on the wings and tail. 

Length, five and twenty-five one-hundredths inches; wing, two and fifteen one- 
hundredths inches ; tail, two and fifteen one-hundredths inches. 

This bird is an extremely rare summer resident in New 
England. It can hardly be called any thing but a strag- 
gler, and Massachusetts seems to be its extreme northern 
limit. 

It has been found breeding near Lynn in this State, and 
at Berlin (Proc. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist., VII. p. 137). 
Allen captured a male at Springfield on May 18, 1863, and 
heard another at the same place in June. These few 
instances are all that I have heard of its occurrence here. 
Of its habits I know nothing. 



THE SHARP-TAILED FINCH. 307 



AMMODROMUS, SWAINSON. 

Ammodromus, SWAINSON, Zool. Jour., III. 1827. (Type Oriolus caudacutus, 
Gmelin.) 

Bill very long, slender, and attenuated, considerably curved towards the tip above ; 
the gonys straight; the legs and toes are very long, and reach considerably beyond 
the tip of the short tail ; the tarsus is about equal to the elongated middle toe ; the 
lateral toes equal, their claws falling considerably short of the base of the middle 
one ; the hind claw equal to the lateral one ; wings short, reaching only to the base 
of the tail ; much rounded ; the secondaries and tertials equal, and not much shorter 
than the primaries; the tail is short, and graduated laterally, each feather stiffened, 
lanceolate, and acute. 

Color. Streaked above and across the breast; very faintly on the sides. 



AMMODROMUS CAUDACUTUS. Swainson. 
The Sharp-tailed Finch. 

Oriolus caudacutus. Gm., I. (1788) 394. 

Fringilla caudacuta, Wilson. Am. Orn., IV. (1811) 70. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. 
(1834) 281; V. 499. 

Ammodromus caudacutus, Swainson. Birds, II. (1837) 289. 
Fringilla littoralis, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 504 (2d ed., 1840, 590). 

DESCRIPTION. 

Upper parts brownish-olivaceous; head brownish, streaked with black on the 
sides, and a broad central stripe of ashy; back blotched with darker; a broad 
superciliary and maxillary stripe, and a band across the upper breast buff-yellow; 
the sides of the throat with a brown stripe ; the upper part of the breast and the 
sides of the body streaked with black ; rest of under parts white ; edge of wing 
yellowish-Avhite. 

The young is of a more yellowish tinge above and below; the streaks on the 
back more conspicuous; the scapular feathers without the whitish edging. 

Length, five inches ; wing, two and thirty one-hundredths inches. 

Hob. Atlantic Coast of the United States. 

Massachusetts seems to be the northern limit of this spe- 
cies. In this State and those south, it is not uncommon ; 
but it is confined to the districts in the neighborhood of the 
coast, and is never found more than a mile or two from 
those localities in the breeding season. About the last 
week in May, the nest is built : this is placed in a tussock 
of grass above the tide-marks, and is constructed of coarse 
grasses, which are woven into a strong fabric, and lined with 
finer grasses and seaweed. The eggs are generally five in 



308 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

number. Their color is a bluish-white, which is covered 
with fine brown dots : these dots are coarser in some speci- 
mens, and almost confluent near the greater end. Dimen- 
sions vary from .80 by .64 inch to .76 by .60 inch. But one 
brood is generally reared in the season in this latitude. 

The description, by Wilson, of the habits of the Seaside 
Finch is so applicable to this species, that I give it here : 
"It inhabits the low, rush-covered sea islands along our 
Atlantic Coast, where I first found it ; keeping almost con- 
tinually within the boundaries of tide-water, except when 
long and violent east and north-easterly storms, with high 
tides, compel it to seek the shore. On these occasions, it 
courses along the margin, and among the holes and inter- 
stices of the weeds and sea-wrack, with a rapidity equalled 
only by the nimblest of our Sand-pipers, and very much in 
their manner. At these times, also, it roosts on the ground, 
and runs about after dusk. 

" This species derives its whole subsistence from the sea. 
I examined a great number of individuals by dissection, 
and found their stomachs universally filled with fragments 
of shrimps, minute shell-fish, and broken limbs of small 
sea-crabs. Its flesh, also, as was to be expected, tasted of 
fish, or what is usually termed sedgy. Amidst the re- 
cesses of these wet sea-marshes, it seeks the rankest growth 
of grass and seaweed, and climbs along the stalks of the 
rushes with as much dexterity as it runs along the ground, 
which is rather a singular circumstance, most of our 
climbers being rather awkward at running." 

AMMODROMUS MARITIMUS. Summon. 
The Seaside Finch. 

FringiUa maritima, Wilson. Am. Orn., IV. (1811) 68. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1831). 
Ammodromus maritimus, Swainson. Zool. Jour., III. (1827) 328. 
Fringilla (Ammodromus) maritima, Nuttall. Man., I. (2d ed., 1840) 592. 
Fringilla MacgiUivrayi, Audubon. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 285; IV. (1838) 394; 
V. (1839) 499. 

Fringilla (Ammodromus) MacgiUivrayi, Nuttall. Man., I. (2d ed., 1840) 593. 



THE WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW. 309 

DESCRIPTION. 

Above olivaceous-brown ; beneath white ; the breast and sides of body yellowish- 
brown, obsoletely streaked with plumbeous; sides of head and body, a central stripe 
on the head above, a maxillary stripe, and indistinct longitudinal streaks on the 
breast, ashy-brown ; the sides and the breast tinged with yellowish; the maxillary 
stripe cuts off a white one above it ; a superciliary stripe is bright-yellow anterior to 
the eye, and plumbeous above and behind it; edge of wing yellow; bill blue. 

Length, about six inches ; wing, two and fifty one-hundredths inches. 

This bird's habits and distribution are the same as those 
of the preceding species, as also are the nests and eggs, 
which are impossible of identification when placed side by 
side. 

ZONOTRICHIA, SWAINSON. 

Zonotrichia, SWAINSON, Fauna Bor. Am., II. (1831). (Type Emberiza leucophrys.) 
Body rather stout; bill conical, slightly notched, somewhat compressed, excavated 
inside ; the lower mandible rather lower than the upper ; gonys slightly convex ; 
commissure nearly straight; feet stout; tarsus rather longer than middle toe; the 
lateral toes very nearly equal; hind toe longer than the lateral ones, their claws just 
reaching to base of middle one ; inner claw contained twice in its toe proper ; claws 
all slender and considerably curved; wings moderate, not reaching to the middle of 
the tail, but beyond the rump ; secondaries and tertials equal and considerably less 
than longest primaries; second and third quills longest; first about equal to the fifth, 
much longer than tertials; tail rather long, moderately rounded; the feathers not 
very broad ; back streaked ; rump and under parts immaculate ; head black, or with 
white streaks, entirely different from the back. 



ZONOTRICHIA LEUCOPHRYS. Swainson. 
The White-crowned Sparrow. 

Emberiza leucophrys, Forster. Philos. Trans., LXII. (1772) 382, 426. Wils. Am. 
Orn., IV. (1811) 49. 

Fringitta (Zonotrichia) leucophrys, Swainson. F. B. Am., II. (1831) 255. 
Frinyilla leucophrys, Audubon. Orn* Biog., II. (1834) 88; V. 515. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Head above, upper half of loral region from the bill, and a narrow line through 
and behind the eye to the occiput, black ; a longitudinal patch in the middle of the 
crown, and a short line from above the anterior corner of the eye, the two confluent 
on the occiput, white; sides of the head, fore part of breast, and lower neck all 
round, pale-ash, lightest beneath and shading insensibly into the whitish of the belly 
and chin; sides of belly and under tail coverts tinged with yellowish-brown; inter- 
scapular region streaked broadly with dark chestnut-brownish ; edges of the tertiariee 
brownish-chestnut ; two white bands on the wing. 



310 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

Female similar, but smaller; immature male with the black of the head replaced 
by dark chestnut-brown, the white tinged with brownish-yellow. 

The white of the crown separates two black lines on either sides, rather narrower 
than itself; the black line behind the eye is continued anterior to it into the black 
at the base of the bill; the lower eyelid is white; there are some obscure cloudings 
of darker on the neck above ; the rump is immaculate ; no white on the tail, except 
very obscure tips ; the white crosses the ends of the middle and greater coverts. 

Length, seven and ten one-hundredths inches ; wing, three and twenty-five one- 
hundredths. 

This beautiful bird is a rare spring and autumn visitor 
in New England. It arrives about the first week in May, 
sometimes as late as the 20th of that month, and returns 
from the North about the 10th of October. While with 
us, it has all the habits of the succeeding species, with 
which it usually associates. 

The following description of its breeding habits, nest, and 
eggs, is given by Audubon : 

" One day, while near American Harbor, in Labrador, I observed 
a pair of these birds resorting to a small 'hummock' of firs, where 
I concluded they must have had a nest. After searching in vain, I 
intimated my suspicion to my young friends, when we all crept 
through the tangled branches, and examined the place without suc- 
cess. . . . Our disappointment was the greater, that we saw the 
male bird frequently flying about with food in his bill, no doubt 
intended for his mate. In a short while, the pair came near us, 
and both were shot. In the female we found an egg, which was 
pure-white, but with the shell yet soft and thin. On the 6th of 
July, while my son was creeping among some low bushes to get a 
shot at some Red-throated Divers, he accidentally started a female 
from her nest. It made much complaint. The nest was placed in 
the moss, near the foot of a low fir, and was formed externally of 
beautiful dry green moss, matted in bunches, like the coarse hair 
of some quadruped; internally of very fine dry grass, arranged 
with great neatness to the thickness of nearly half an inch, with a 
full lining of delicate fibrous roots of a rich transparent yellow. 
It was five inches in diameter externally, two in depth ; two and a 
quarter in diameter within, although rather oblong, and one and 
three-quarters deep. In one nest, we found a single feather of the 
Willow Grouse. The eggs, five in number, average seven-eighths 



THE WHITE-THROATED SPARROW. 311 

of an inch in length, are proportionally broad, of a light sea-green 
color, mottled toward the larger end with brownish spots and 
blotches ; a few spots of a lighter tint being dispersed over the 
whole. . . . We found many nests, which were all placed on the 
ground or among the moss, and were all constructed alike. This 
species deposit their eggs from the beginning to the end of June. 
In the beginning of August, I saw many young that were able to 
fly ; and, by the twelfth of that month, the birds had already com- 
menced their southward migration. The young follow their parents 
until nearly full grown. 

" The food of this species, while in Labrador, consists of small 
coleopterous insects, grass seeds, and a variety of berries, as well 
as some minute shell-fish, for which they frequently search the mar- 
gins of ponds or the seashore. At the approach of autumn, they 
pursue insects on the wing to a short distance, and doubtless secure 
some in that manner." 

The song of the White-crowned Sparrow consists of six 
or seven notes, the first of which is loud, clear, and musi- 
cal, although of a plaintive nature ; the next broader, less 
firm, and seeming merely a second to the first; the rest 
form a cadence, diminishing in power to the last note, which 
sounds as if the final effort of the musician. These notes 
are repeated at short intervals during the whole day, even 
on those dismal days produced by the thick fogs of the 
country where it breeds, and where this species is, of all, 
the most abundant. 

ZONOTRICHIA ALBICOLLIS. Bonaparte. 
The White-throated Sparrow ; Peabody Bird. 

Fringilla albicollis, Gmelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 926. Wils. Am. Orn., III. 
(1811) 61. 

Zonotrichia albicollis^ Bonap. Consp. (1850), 478. 

Fringilla Pennsylvania, Audubon. Orn. Biog., I. (1831) 42; V. 497. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Two black stripes on the crown separated by a median one of white ; a broad 
superciliary stripe from the base of the mandible to the occiput, yellow as far as 
the middle of the eye and white behind this ; a broad black streak on the side of the 



312 



ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



head from behind the eye; chin white, abruptly defined against the dark-ash of 
the sides of the head and upper part of the breast, fading into white on the belly, 
and margined by a narrow black maxillary line ; edge of wing and axillaries yellow ; 
back and edges of secondaries rufous-brown, the former streaked with dark-brown; 
two narrow white bands across the wing coverts. 

Female smaller, and the colors rather duller. Immature and winter specimens 
have the white chin-patch less abruptly denned; the white markings on the top and 
sides of the head tinged with brown. Some specimens, apparently mature, show- 
quite distinct streaks on the breast, and sides of throat and body. 

Length, seven inches; wing, three and ten one-hundredths ; tail, three and twenty 
one-hundredths inches. 

This beautiful Sparrow arrives in Massachusetts by the 
last week in April. It does not tarry long, but passes 
north, and breeds abundantly in the northern districts of 

New England. I have 
found the nests as early 
as the last week in May ; 
but generally they are 
not built before the 10th 
of June. They are 
placed under a low bush 
on the ground, some- 
times in swamps and 
pastures, sometimes in 
high woods and ledges. 

They are constructed of 
. -, 

k fine grasses, twigs, and 

mosses, and lined with 
finer grasses, and sometimes a few hair-like roots. Some 
specimens that I have collected in Northern Maine were 
placed in a hollow in a mossy knoll, which was scratched 
by the birds to the depth of the whole nest. The eggs are 
usually four in number : their color is a grayish-white, and 
marked with spots and confluent blotches of brown and 
obscure lilac. A number of specimens, collected in differ- 
ent localities in Maine, exhibit the following variations in 
size : .92 by .64 inch, .92 by .60 inch, .90 by .62 inch, .86 
by .62 inch. But one brood is reared in the season. This 




JUNCO. 313 

bird is a great favorite in the North, and justly so. It is 
one of the sweetest songsters of the localities where it 
is found ; and, having no bad precedents with the farmer, 
and being of a sociable, lively disposition, it is no wonder 
that it meets with great favor. 

The song of this species is very beautiful. It is difficult of 
description, but resembles nearly the syllables 'cliea dee de; 
de-d-de,-de-d-de, de-d-de, de-d-de, uttered at first loud and 
clear, and rapidly falling in tone and decreasing in volume. 

This is chanted during the morning and the latter part of 
the day, and, in cloudy weather, through the whole day. I 
have often heard it at different hours of the night, when 
I have been encamped in the deep forests ; and the effect, at 
that time, was indescribably sweet and plaintive. The fact 
that the bird often sings in the night has given it the name 
of the " Nightingale " in many localities ; and the title is 
well earned. 

While in its spring and autumn migrations, this Sparrow 
prefers low moist thickets and young woods ; but, in its sum- 
mer home, it is found equally abundant in fields, pastures, 
swamps, and forests. 

It feeds on insects, various seeds, and berries, and some- 
times pursues flying insects in the manner of the preceding 
species. 

About the last week in October, the birds, after congre- 
gating in loose flocks of a dozen or fifteen, leave New Eng- 
land for their winter homes. 

JUNCO, WAGLER. 

Junco, WAGLER, Isis (1831). (Type Fringilla cinerea, Sw.) 
Bill small, conical; culmen curved at the tip; the lower jaw quite as high as the 
upper; tarsus longer than the middle toe; outer toe longer than the inner, barely 
reaching to the base of the middle claw ; hind toe reaching as far as the middle of 
the latter; extended toes reaching about to the middle of the tail; wings rather 
short, reaching over the basal fourth of the exposed surface of the tail ; primaries, 
however, considerably longer than the nearly equal secondaries and tertials; the 
second quill longest, the third to fifth successively but little shorter; first longer than 
sixth, much exceeding secondaries ; tail moderate, a little shorter than the wings ; 



314 



ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



slightly emarginate and rounded ; feathers rather narrow, oval at the end ; no streaks 
on the head or body ; color above uniform on the head, back, or rump, separately or 
on all together ; belly white ; outer tail feathers white. 

The essential characters of this genus are, the middle toe rather shorter than the 
short tarsus; the lateral toes slightly unequal, the outer reaching the base of 
the middle claw; the tail a little shorter than the wings, slightly emarginate. In 
Junco cinereus the claws are longer; the lower mandible a little lower than the 
upper; the species have the upper parts ashy or plumbeous, the belly and lateral 
tail feathers white. 

JUNCO HYEMALIS. Sclater. 
The Snowbird. 

Fringilla hyemalis, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (10th ed., 1758) 183. Aud. Orn. Biog., 
I. (1831) 72; V. 505.' 

Junco hyemalis, Sclater. Pr. Zool. Soc. (1857), 7. 
Fringilla nivalis. Wils., II. (1810) 129. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Everywhere of a grayish or dark ashy-black, deepest anteriorly ; the middle of 
the breast behind and of the belly, the under tail coverts, and first and second exter- 
nal tail feathers, white ; the third tail feather white, margined with black. 

Length, six and twenty-five one-hundredths inches ; wing, about three inches. 

This interesting and well-known little species is an abun- 
dant inhabitant of New Eng- 
land. In the spring it migrates 
from the southern districts, 
where it spends the winter, to 
the northern sections, and late 
in fall returns to its winter 
home. A few pairs breed in 
Massachusetts on the Holyoke 
Mountains, and in New Hamp- 
shire on the White Mountains : 
but the great numbers pass to 
the northern districts to spend 
the summer ; and near the Um- 
bagog lakes, and north to the 
Canada frontier, it is the most 
common species. I have been 
so fortunate as to find a number of the nests: some had eggs 
as early as the last week in May, and others as late as the 




Snowbird, upper i 
Song Sparrow, lower fig. 



THE SNOWBIRD. 315 

middle of July ; therefore two broods are probably reared. 
The nests are constructed of fine grasses and leaves, and 
are placed sometimes in a slight hole scratched in a mossy 
knoll, sometimes in an old stump of a tree or in a tuft of 
grass in a thicket of bushes. The eggs are usually four in 
number : they vary in color from nearly pure-white with 
reddish spots, to grayish-white with reddish-brown spots, and 
bluish-white with a roseate tint and spots of umber, reddish- 
brown, and lilac. Dimensions vary from .76 by .60 inch to 
.70 by .56 inch. 

The description by Wilson of the habits of this species is 
so full and accurate that I can do no better than give it 
here : 

" This well-known species, small and insignificant as it may 
appear, is by far the most numerous, as well as the most extensively 
disseminated, of all the feathered tribes that visit us from the frozen 
regions of the North, : their migrations extending from the arctic 
circle, and probably beyond it, to the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, 
spreading over the whole breadth of the United States, from the 
Atlantic Ocean to Louisiana ; how much farther westward. I am 
unable to say. About the 20th of October, they make their first 
appearance in those parts of Pennsylvania east of the Alleghany 
Mountains. At first they are most generally seen on the borders 
of woods among the falling and decayed leaves, in loose flocks of 
thirty or forty together, always taking to the trees when disturbed. 
As the weather sets in colder, they approach nearer the farm-house 
and villages ; and, on the appearance of what is usually called fall- 
ing weather, assemble in larger flocks, and seem doubly diligent in 
searching for food. This increased activity is generally a sure prog- 
nostic of a storm. When deep snows cover the ground, they 
become almost half domesticated. They collect about the barn, 
stables, and other out-houses, spread over the yard, and even round 
the steps of the door, not only in the country and villages, but 
in the heart of our large cities ; crowding around the threshold 
early in the morning, gleaning up the crumbs ; appearing very lively 
and familiar. They have also recourse, at this severe season, when 
the face of the earth is shut up from them, to the seeds of many 



316 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

kinds of weeds that still rise above the snow in corners of fields, 
and low, sheltered situations, along the borders of creeks and fences, 
where they associate with several other species of Sparrows. They 
are, at this time, easily caught with almost any kind of trap ; are 
generally fat, and, it is said, are excellent eating. 

"I cannot but consider this bird as the most .numerous of its 
tribe of any within the United States. From the northern parts 
of the District 1 of Maine to the Ogeechee River in Georgia, a 
distance, by the circuitous route in which I travelled, of more than 
eighteen hundred miles, I never passed a day, and scarcely a 
mile, without seeing numbers of these birds, arid frequently large 
flocks of several thousands. Other travellers with whom I con- 
versed, who had come from Lexington, in Kentucky, through Vir- 
ginia, also declared that they found these birds numerous along the 
whole road. It should be observed, that the roadsides are their 
favorite haunts, where many rank weeds that grow along the 
fences furnish them with food, and the road with gravel. In 
the vicinity of places where they were most numerous, I observed 
a Small Hawk, and several others of his tribe, watching their 
opportunity, or hovering cautiously around, making an occasional 
sweep among them, and retiring to the bare branches of an old 
cypress to feed on their victims. In the month of April, when the 
weather begins to be warm, they are observed to retreat to 
the woods, and to prefer the shaded sides of hills and thickets ; at 
which time, the males warble out a few very low, sweet notes, and 
are almost perpetually pursuing and fighting with each other. 
About the 20th of April, they take their leave of our humble 
regions, and retire to the North and to the high ranges of the Alle- 
ghany to build their nests and rear their young. In some of those 
ranges, in the interior of Virginia, and northward, about the wa- 
ters of the west branch of the Susquehanna, they breed in great 
numbers. The nest is fixed in the ground, or among the grass ; 
sometimes several being within a small distance of each other. 
According to the observations of the gentlemen residing at Hudson- 
Bay Factory, they arrive there about the beginning of June, stay 
a week or two, and proceed farther north to breed. They return 
to that settlement in the autumn, on their way to the South. 

i Now State. 



THE TREE SPARROW. 317 

"In some parts of New England, I found the opinion pretty 
general, that the Snowbird, in summer, is transformed into the 
Small Chipping Sparrow, which we find so common in that season. 
I had convinced a gentleman of New York of his mistake in this 
matter, by taking him to the house of a Mr. Gautier there, who 
amuses himself by keeping a great number of native as well as 
foreign birds. This was in the month of July ; and the Snow- 
bird appeared then in the same colored plumage he usually has. 
Several individuals of the Chipping Sparrow were also in the same 
apartment. The evidence was, therefore, irresistible ; but, as I 
had not the same proofs to offer to the eye in New England, I had 
not the same success. 

" There must be something in the temperature of the blood or 
constitution of this bird, which unfits it for residing, during sum- 
mer, in the lower parts of the United States, as the country here 
abounds with a great variety of food, of which, during its stay, it 
appears to be remarkably fond. Or perhaps its habit of associating 
in such numbers to breed, and building its nest with so little pre- 
caution, may, to insure its safety, require a solitary region, far from 
the intruding footsteps of man." 

SPIZELLA, BONAPARTE. 

Spizella, BONAPARTE, Geog. and Comp. List (1838). (Type Fringilla Canaden- 
sis, Lath.) 

Bill conical, the outlines slightly curved ; the lower mandible decided!}' lower 
than the upper; the commissure gently sinuated; the roof of the mouth not 
knobbed; feet slender; tarsus rather longer than the middle toe; the hinder toe a 
little longer than the outer lateral, which slightly exceeds the inner; the outer claw 
reaching the base of the middle one, and half as long as its toe ; claws moderately 
curved ; tertiaries and secondaries nearly equal ; wing somewhat pointed, reaching 
not quite to the middle of the tail ; first quill a little shorter than the second and 
equal to the fifth, third longest; tail rather long, moderately forked, and divaricated 
at the tip; the feathers rather narrow; back streaked; rump and beneath immacu- 
late ; hood generally uniform. 

The genus differs from Zonotrichia in the smaller size, and longer and forked 
instead of rounded tail. 

SPIZELLA MONTICOLA. Baird. 
The Tree Sparrow. 

Fringitta monticola, Gmelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 912. 

Fringilla Canadensis, Audubon. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 511; V. 504. 

Fringilla arborea, Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 12. 



318 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Middle of back with the feathers dark-brown centrally, then rufous, and edged 
with pale-fulvous (sometimes with whitish). Hood and upper part of nape continu- 
ous chestnut ; a line of the same from behind the eye ; sides of head and neck ashy ; 
a broad light superciliary band ; beneath whitish, with a small circular blotch of 
brownish in the middle of the upper part of the breast ; edges of tail feathers, pri- 
mary quills, and two bands across the tips of the secondaries, white ; tertiaries nearly 
black; edged externally with rufous, turning to white near the tips; lower jaw yel- 
lo vv ; upper black. 

This species varies in the amount of whitish edging to the quills and tail. 

Length, six and twenty-five one-hundredths inches; wing, three inches. 

Hab. Eastern North America to the Missouri; also on Pole Creek and Little 
Colerado River, New Mexico. 

This species occurs in New England only as a winter 
visitor. It arrives from the North about the last of October, 
and remains in swamps and sheltered thickets through the 
winter, and until the first week in May. While with us, it 
is gregarious, and often visits stubble-fields and gardens, 
where it feeds upon the seeds of grasses and various weeds. 
It has, at this season, a persistent twitter, which is uttered 
by all the members of the flock at short intervals. Whether 
it has any song in the breeding season or not, I am ignorant, 
but judge that it has not. 

It is not impossible that this bird sometimes breeds in 
the most northern sections of these States ; but there is no 
authenticated instance on record of its doing so. The bird 
alluded to in the " Proceedings of the Boston Society of 
Natural History" (vol. Y. p. 213) was undoubtedly the 
Chipping Sparrow. 

The Tree Sparrow breeds, according to Mr. Hutchins, 
around the Hudson's Bay settlements. " Its nest is placed 
in the herbage, is formed externally of mud and dry 
grass, and lined with soft hair or down, probably from 
plants, in the manner of the Yellow-bird." The eggs 
are about five in number: they are of a light grayish-blue 
color, and are marked with spots and blotches of two shades 
of brown and red. To compare them with another species, 
I would say that they almost exactly resemble small speci- 
mens of the eggs of the common Song Sparrow. They are 



THE FIELD SPARROW. 319 

ovate or ovoidal in form, and average about .73 by .56 inch 
in dimensions. 

SPIZELLA PUSILLA. Bonaparte. 
The Field Sparrow. 

Fringilla pusilla, Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 121; Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 
299. 

Spizella pusilla, Bonaparte. List (1838). 

Frinyilla juncwum, Nuttafl. Man., I. (1832) 499. II. (2d ed., 1840), 577. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill red; crown continuous rufous-red; back somewhat similar, streaked with 
blackish; sides of head and neck (including a superciliary stripe) ashy; ear coverts 
rufous; beneath white, tinged with yellowish anteriorly; tail feathers and quills 
faintly edged with white ; two white bands across the wing coverts. 

This species is about the size of S. socialis, but is more rufous above; lacks the 
black forehead and eye-stripe ; has chestnut ears instead of ash ; has the bill red 
instead of black; lacks the clear ash of the rump; has a longer tail, &c. It is 
more like Monticola, but is much smaller; lacks the spot on the breast and the 
predominance of white on the wings, &c. The young have the breast and sides 
streaked. 

Length, about five and seventy-five one hundredths inches; wing, two and thirty- 
four one hundredths inches. 

Hab. Eastern North America to the Missouri River. 

This bird makes its appearance about the first week in 
April, in Massachusetts, and soon scatters throughout New 
England. It prefers dry bushy pastures and low open 
woods, and is seldom found in the near vicinage of human 
habitations. 

The male sings during the season of incubation, and, 
indeed, through nearly all the summer : mounted on a low 
tree or fence-rail, he utters his pleasing yet plaintive ditty 
at early morning and evening, and, in dark and cloudy 
weather, through the whole day. The song is a tinkling 
warble, something like the syllables, 'te 'de 'de 'de 'de 'de 'de 
'd 'd 'd dr, uttered at first low, and rapidly increasing, and 
then decreasing in tone to a faint chatter, something like the 
twitter of the Chipping Sparrow. 

About the middle of May, the first nest is built. It is con- 
structed of stalks of dried grass and fine twigs, is loosely 
put together, and placed usually on the ground beneath a 



320 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

bush, sometimes in a bush : it is lined with fine grass and 
horsehairs. The eggs are usually four in number : they are 
of a grayish-white color, with thinly scattered spots and 
blotches of reddish-brown and lavender ; and their dimen- 
sions vary from .72 by .52 to .70 by .50 inch. Two broods 
are reared in the season. 

Early in September, these birds collect in loose flocks, 
when, they have all the habits and notes of the Tree Spar- 
row. In October, they all leave New England for the 
South. 

SPIZELLA SOCIALIS. Bonaparte. 
The Chipping Sparrow; Hair-bird. 

Fringilla socially Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 127; Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 
21; V. 517. 

Spinites socialis, Cabanis. Mus. Hein. (1851), 133. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Rump, back of neck, and sides of neck and head, ashy ; interscapular region with 
black streaks, margined with pale-rufous ; crown continuous and uniform chestnut ; 
forehead black, separated in the middle by white ; a white streak over the eye, and 
a black one from the base of the bill through and behind the eye ; under parts un- 
spotted whitish, tinged with ashy, especially across the upper breast; tail feathers 
and primaries edged with paler, not white ; two narrow white bands across the wing 
coverts; bill black. 

Length, five and seventy-five one-hundredths inches ; wing, nearly three inches. 

Hob. North America, from Atlantic to Pacific. 

This very common and well-known little species makes its 
appearance in Massachusetts sometimes as early as the 15th 
of March, 1 usually about the 1st of April, and spreads 
throughout New England. The habits are so well known 
that any description here is superfluous. 

About the first week in May, the nest is built. It is 
placed in an apple-tree in the orchard, or in a lilac-bush 
under the windows of a dwelling-house ; and I found nests 
in low juniper bushes in the deep woods in Maine. It is 

1 I am indebted for the time of the arrival of this and of many other birds to 
Mr. H. A. Purdie, of Boston, who has kindly furnished me with full and copious 
notes and memoranda on the arrival of species, which are of value, having been con- 
ducted for several years. 



THE SONG SPARROW. 321 

constructed of fine twigs and roots and grasses, and is almost 
invariably lined with horsehairs ; hence its name, in some 
localities, of " Hair-bird," " Hair Sparrow." The eggs are 
usually five in number. Their color is a bluish-green ; and 
they are marked with spots and lines of black and obscure- 
brown, which are thickest at the great end : some specimens 
have these spots confluent into a sort of ring. The dimen- 
sions vary from .74 by .50 to .70 by .48 inch. This species 
is the most often chosen by the parasitic Cow-bird as a parent 
for its young ; and many ornithologists account by this fact 
for its persistent familiarity with man. 

About the middle of October, the old and young birds 
gather into small flocks, and proceed leisurely on the south- 
ern migration. 

MELOSPIZA, BAIRD. 

Body stout; bill conical, very obsoletely notched or smooth, somewhat com- 
pressed ; lower mandible not so deep as the upper ; commissure nearly straight ; gonys 
a little curved; feet stout, not stretching beyond the tail; tarsus a little longer 
than the middle toe; outer toe a little longer than the inner, its claw not quite 
reaching to the base of the middle one; hind toe appreciably longer than the middle 
one; wings quite short and rounded, scarcely reaching beyond the base of the tail; 
the tertials considerably longer than the secondaries; the quills considerably gradu- 
ated ; the fourth longest ; the first not longer than the tertials, and almost the short- 
est of the primaries; tail moderately long, and considerably graduated; the feathers 
oval at the tips ; crown and back similar in color and streaked ; beneath thickly 
streaked; tail immaculate. 

This genus differs from Zonotrickia in shorter, more graduated tail, rather longer 
hind toe, much more rounded wing, which is shorter; the tertiaries longer; the first 
quill almost the shortest, and not longer than the tertials. The under parts are 
spotted ; the crown streaked and like the back. 

MELOSPIZA MELODIA. Baird. 
The Song Sparrow. 

Fringilla melodia, Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 125; Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1832) 
126; V. 507. 

DESCRIPTION. 

General tint of upper parts rufous-brown, streaked with dark-brown and ashy- 
gray ; the crown is rufous, with a superciliary and median stripe of dull-gray, the 
former lighter; nearly white anteriorly, where it has a faint shade of yellow; each 
feather of the crown with a narrow streak of dark-brown; interscapulars dark- 
brown in the centre, then rufous, then grayish on the margin ; rump grayer than 

21 



322 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

upper tail coverts, both with obsolete dark streaks; there is a whitish maxillary 
'stripe, bordered above and below by one of dark rufous-brown, with a similar one 
from behind the eye; the under parts are white; the breast and sides of body and 
throat streaked with dark-rufous, with a still darker central line ; on the middle of 
the breast, these marks are rather aggregated so as to form a spot; no distinct white 
on tail or wings. 

Specimens vary somewhat in having the streaks across the breast more or less 
sparse; the spot more or less distinct. In autumn, the colors are more blended, the 
light maxillary stripe tinged with yellowish, the edges of the dusk}' streaks suffused 
witli brownish-rufous. 

The voung bird has the upper parts paler, the streaks more distinct, the lines on 
the head scarcely appreciable. The under parts are yellowish ; the streaks narrower 
and more sharply defined dark-brown. 

Length of male, six and fifty one-hundredth s inches; wing, two and fifty-eight 
one-hundredths ; tail, three inches. 

Hab. Eastern United States to the high central plains. 

This beautiful songster is one of the most common and 
well-known of our summer visitors. It arrives from about 
the first week in March to the middle of that month. On 
its first appearance, it prefers the low thickets and bushy 
woods, where, at all hours of the day, it chants its beautiful 
song. It is somewhat gregarious at this time, and is 
usually found in flocks of half a dozen individuals. It soon 
commences mating ; and, after a short season of courtship, 
both birds begin building their first nest. This is about the 
middle of April, sometimes earlier ; and I have found the 
nest with eggs when there was an inch or two of snow on 
the ground. The nest is usually built on the ground, some- 
times in a low bush, and occasionally in low trees : it is 
constructed of stalks and leaves, of grasses and weeds, and 
is lined with softer grasses and fine weeds. The eggs are 
four or five in number, and they are subject to great varia- 
tions in form and markings : they exhibit all the changes 
from grayish to bluish-white, with spots, thinly scattered, 
of reddish-brown, to confluent blotches of umber-brown, 
thickest at the greater end. Their dimensions vary from 
.94 by .64 to .78 by. .62 inch. Four eggs in one nest 
measure .94 by .64, .84 by .66, .80 by .58, .78 by .62. 
inch. Two broods, and sometimes three, are reared in the 
season. 



THE SWAMP SPARROW. 323 

There lias been considerable discussion among ornitholo- 
gists regarding this bird ; and many are of the belief, that, 
from its irregular habits, there are two species found in 
New England. I have examined with great care many 
specimens, and have attentively observed their habits, and 
think that it yet remains to be proved that we have more 
than one species. Late in October, this species assembles in 
small detached flocks, and leaves New England for its 
southern home. 

MELOSPIZA PALUSTRIS. Baird, 
The Swamp Sparrow. 

Fringilla palustris, Wilson. Am. Orn., III. (1811) 49. Aud. Orn. Biog , I. 
(1831) 331; V. 508. 

Fringilla (Ammodromus) Georgiana, Nuttall. Man., I. (2d ed., 1840) 588. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Middle of the crown uniform chestnut; forehead black; superciliary streak, 
sides of head and back and sides of neck, ash ; a brown stripe behind the eye ; back 
broadly streaked with black; beneath whitish, tinged with ashy anteriorly, espe- 
cially across the breast, and washed with yellowish-brown on the sides; a few obso- 
lete streaks across the breast, which become distinct on its sides; wings and tail 
strongly tinged with rufous; the tertials black, the rufous edgings changing 
abruptly to white towards the end. 

Female with the crown scarcely reddish streaked with black, and divided by a 
light line. 

In autumn the male of this species has the feathers of the crown each with a 
black streak ; and the centre of the crown with an indistinct light stripe, materially 
changing its appearance. 

The forehead is usually more or less streaked with black. 

Length, five and seventy-five one-hundredths inches ; wing, two and forty one- 
hundredths inches. 

Hob. Eastern United States from the Atlantic to the Missouri. 

This bird, although not rare, is not so common as the 
preceding. It is about equally distributed throughout New 
England, and breeds in all these States. It arrives from 
the South about the first week in April in Massachusetts ; 
in Maine, about a fortnight later. It prefers the swampy 
localities to all others, and is seldom found at any distance 
from such places. The nest is built about the 10th of May. 
It is constructed of leaves of grass and fine hair-like roots, 



324 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

and lined with finer of the same : these are adjusted into a 
loose fabric, and placed in or beneath a tussock of grass in 
a swamp. I have known of instances of its being found 
in a low barberry-bush ; but such cases are extremely rare, 
and form exceptions to the rule. The eggs are four or five 
in number : their color is a grayish-white, with sometimes a 
bluish tint, and marked with thinly scattered spots of brown 
over the entire surface, except a circle around the greater 
end, where they are confluent, and hide the primary color. 
Dimensions of a number in my cabinet vary from .80 
by .58 to .76 by .54 inch. Two broods are reared in the 
season. 

Wilson, in describing the general habits of this species, 
says, 

"It is one of our summer visitants, arriving in Pennsylvania 
early in April ; frequenting low grounds and river courses ; rearing 
two, and sometimes three, broods in a season ; and returning to the 
South as soon as the cold weather commences. The immense 
cypress swamps and extensive grassy flats of the Southern States, 
that border their numerous rivers, and the rich rice plantations, 
abounding with their favorite seeds and sustenance, appear to 
be the general winter resort and grand annual rendezvous of this 
and all the other species of Sparrow that remain with us during 
summer. From the river Trent in North Carolina to that of 
Savannah, and still farther south, I found this species very numer- 
ous ; not flying in flocks, but skulking among the canes, reeds, and 
grass, seeming shy and timorous, and more attached to the water 
than any other of their tribe. In the month of April, numbers 
pass through Pennsylvania to the northward ; which I conjecture 
from the circumstance of finding them at that season in particular 
parts of the woods, where, during the rest of the year, they are 
not to be seen. The few that remain frequent the swamps and 
reedy borders of our creeks and rivers. They form their nest in 
the ground, sometimes in a tussock of rank grass surrounded by 
water, and lay four eggs, of a dirty- white, spotted with rufous. So 
late as the 15th of August, I have seen them feeding their young 
that were scarcely able to fly. Their principal food is grass seeds, 



THE FOX-COLORED SPARROW. 325 

wild oats, and insects. They have no song ; are distinguished by a 
single chip or cheep, uttered in a rather hoarser tone than that of 
the Song Sparrow ; flirt the tail as they fly ; seldom or never take 
to the trees, but skulk from one low bush or swampy thicket to 
another." 



Sub-Family PASSERELLINJE. The Buntings. 

Toes and claws very stout; the lateral claws reaching beyond the middle of the 
middle one; all very slightly curved. 

Bill conical, the outlines straight; both mandibles equal; wings long, longer 
than the even tail, reachjng nearly to the middle of its exposed portion; hind claw 
longer than its digit; its toe nearly as long as the middle toe; tarsus longer than 
the middle toe ; brown above, either uniformly so or faintly streaked ; triangular 
spots below. 

PASSERELLA, SWAINSON. 

Passerella, SWAINSON, Class. Birds, II. (1837) 288. (Type Fringilla iliaca, 
Merrem.) 

Body stout; bill conical, not notched, the outlines straight; the two jaws of 
equal depth ; roof of upper mandible deeply excavated, and vaulted, not knobbed ; 
tarsus scarcely longer than the middle toe ; outer toe little longer than the inner, its 
claw reaching to the middle of the central one; hind toe about equal to the inner 
lateral ; the claws all long, and moderately curved only ; the posterior rather longer 
than the middle, and equal to its toe; wings long, pointed, reaching to the middle 
of the tail; the tertials not longer than secondaries; second and third quills longest; 
first equal to the fifth; tail very nearly even, scarcely longer than the wing; inner 
claw contained scarcely one and a half times in its toe proper. 

Color. Rufous or slaty ; obsoletely streaked or uniform above ; thickly spotted 
with triangular blotches beneath. 

PASSEEELLA ILIACA. Swainson. 
The Fox-colored Sparrow. 

Fringilla iliaca, Audubon. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 58; V. 512. 
Passerella iliaca, Swainson. Birds, II. (1837) 288. 
Fringilla rufa, Wilson. Am. Orn., III. (1811) 53. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Middle of the back dull-ash, each feather with a large blotch of brownish-red ; 
top of head and neck, with rump, similar, but with smaller and more obsolete 
blotches ; upper tail coverts, with exposed surface of wings and tail, bright-rufous ; 
beneath white, with the upper part of the breast and sides of throat and body with 
triangular spots of rufous, and a few smaller ones of blackish on the middle of the 



326 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

breast; inner edges of quills and tail feathers tinged with rufous-pink; no light lines 
on the head, but a patch of rufous on the cheeks ; first quill rather less than the 
fifth; hind toe about equal to its claw; sometimes the entire head above is reddish, 
like the back. 

Length, about seven and fifty one-hundredths inches; wing, three and fifty one- 
hundredths inches. 

Hob. Eastern United States to the Mississippi. 

This beautiful Sparrow is very abundant in spring and 
autumn in New England, arriving in spring early in March, 
and departing for the North by the first week in April ; and 
arriving in autumn from the North about the 10th of Octo- 
ber, and departing for the South late in November. While 
with us, it remains in low, moist thickets and woody pas- 
tures ; and occasionally visits the stubble-fields and gardens, 
where it busies itself in searching among the dead leaves 
and weeds for its food of seeds and insects. It generally 
has, while in New England, only a short, lisping note, occa- 
sionally a pretty warble ; but it is said to have in its northern 
home a beautiful song, that is excelled by that of hardly 
any other species. Audubon, in describing the nest and 
eggs, says, " The nest of the Fox-colored Sparrow, which 
is large for the size of the bird, is usually placed on the 
ground, among moss or tall grass, near the stem of a creep- 
ing fir, the branches of which completely conceal it from 
view. Its outside is loosely formed of dry grass and moss, 
with a carefully disposed inner layer of finer grasses, circu- 
larly arranged; and the lining consists of very delicate 
fibrous roots, together with some feathers from different 
species of water-fowls. The period at which the eggs are 
laid is from the middle of June to the 5th of July. They 
are proportionally large, four or five in number, rather 
sharp at the smaller end, of a dull-greenish tint, sprinkled 
with irregular small blotches of brown." Their dimensions 
average about .86 by .62 inch. 



THE BLACK-THROATED BUNTING. 327 



Sub-Family SPIZIN^E. 

Bill variable, always large, much arched, and with the culmen considerably 
curved ; sometimes of enormous size, and with a great development backwards of 
the lower jaw, which is always appreciably, sometimes considerably, broader behind 
than the upper jaw at its base; nostrils exposed; tail rather variable; bill generally 
black or red ; wings shorter than in the first group ; gape almost always much more 
strongly bristled ; few of the species sparrow-like or plain in appearance ; usually 
blue, red, or black and white; seldom (or never?) streaked beneath. 



EUSPIZA, BONAPARTE. 

Euspiza, BONAPARTE, List (1838). (Type Emberiza Americana, Gm.) 
Bill large and strong, swollen, and without any ridges; the lower mandible 
nearly as high as the upper; as broad at the base as the length of the gonys, and 
considerably broader than the upper mandible ; the edges much inflexed, and shut- 
ting much within the upper mandible; the commissure considerably angulated at 
the base, then decidedly sinuated ; the tarsus barely equal to the middle toe ; the 
lateral toes nearly equal, not reaching to the base of the middle claw; the hind toe 
about equal to the middle one without its claw ; the wings long and acute, reaching 
nearly to the middle of the tail ; the tertials decidedly longer than the secondaries, 
but much shorter than the primaries ; first quill longest, the others regularly gradu- 
ated; tail considerably shorter than the wings, though moderately long, nearly even, 
although slightly emarginate; the outer feathers scarcely shorter; middle of back 
only striped; beneath without streaks. 

EUSPIZA AMERICANA. Bonaparte. 
The Black-throated Bunting. 

Emberiza Americana, Gmelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 872. Wils. Am. Orn., III. 
(1811) 86. Aud. Orn. Biog., IV. (1838) 579. 

Euspiza Americana, Bonaparte. List (1838). (Type.) Jb., Consp. (1850), 469. 
Euspina Americana, Cabanis. Mus. Hein. (1851), 133. (Type.) 

DESCRIPTION. 

Male. Sides of the head, and sides and back of the neck, ash ; crown tinged with 
yellowish-green and faintly streaked with dusky; a superciliary and short maxillary 
line, middle of the breast, axillaries, and edge of the wing, yellow; chin, loral 
region, spots on sides of throat, belly, and under tail coverts white; a black patch 
on the throat diminishing to the breast, and a spot on the upper part of the belly; 
wing coverts chestnut; interscapular region streaked with black; rest of back 
immaculate. 

Female with the markings less distinctly indicated; the black of the breast 
replaced by a black maxillary line and a streaked collar in the yellow of the upper 
part of the breast. 

Length, about six and seventjr one-hundredths inches; wing, three and fifty one- 
hundredths inches. 

Hob. United States from the Atlantic to the border of the high central plains. 



328 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

This bird can be regarded only as an extremely rare 
summer visitor in New England, Massachusetts apparently 
being its extreme northern limit. I have heard of two 
specimens being found in this State, and it is possible that 
others may have occurred here. 

The nest of this species is placed on the ground, usually 
in a dry pasture or field, and most generally beneath a tuft 
of grass or a small bush. It is loosely constructed of grass 
and fine roots arranged circularly, and with a finer lining. 
The eggs are four in number : they are of an ovoidal shape, 
and are but little pointed. Their dimensions vary from .82 
by .60 inch to .79 by .58 inch : their color is a delicate 
greenish-blue, without spots or markings. 

I have had no opportunities for observing the habits of 
this bird, and can present nothing of value with relation to 
them. 

GUIRACA, SWAINSON. 

Guiraca, SWAINSON, Zool. Jour., III. (Nov., 1827) 350. (Type Loxia ccerulea, L.) 
Bill very large, nearly as high as long ; the culmen curved, with a rather sharp 
ridge; the commissure conspicuously angulated just below the nostril, the posterior 
leg of the angle nearly as long as the anterior, both nearly straight; lower jaw 
deeper than the upper, and extending much behind the forehead; the width greater 
than the length of the gonys, considerably wider than the upper jaw; a prominent 
knob in the roof of the mouth; tarsi shorter than the middle toe; the outer toe a 
little longer, reaching not quite to the base of the middle claw; hind toe rather 
longer than to this base; wings long, reaching the middle of the tail; the seconda- 
ries and tertials nearly equal; the second quill longest; the first less than the fourth; 
tail very nearly even, shorter than the wings. 

GUIRACA LUDOVICIANA. Swainson. 
The Rose-breasted Grosbeak. 

Loxia Ludwidana, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 306. Wils. Am. Orn., II. 
(1810) 135. 

Guiraca Ludoviciana, Swainson. Phil. Mag., I. (1827) 438. 
Fringilla Ludovidana, Audubon. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 166; V. 513. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Upper parts generally, with head and neck all round, glossy black; a broad 
crescent across the upper part of the breast, extending narrowly down to the belly, 
axillaries, and under wing coverts, carmine; rest of under parts, rump, and upper tail 
coverts, middle wing coverts, spots on the tertiaries and inner great wing coverts, 




GuosBKAK, Gufraca Iwloviciana. Swainson. 



THE ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK. 329 

basal half of primaries and secondaries, and a large patch on the ends of the inner 
webs of the outer three tail feathers, pure-white. 

Female, without the white of quills, tail, and rump, and without any black or 
red; above yellowish-brown streaked with darker; head with a central stripe above, 
and a superciliary on each side, white; beneath dirty-white, streaked with brown on 
the breast and sides ; under wing coverts and axillaries saffron- vel low. 

In the male, the black feathers of the back and sides of the neck have a subter- 
minal white bar: there are a few black spots on the sides of the breast just below 
the red. 

The young male of the year is like the female, except in having the axillaries, 
under wing coverts, and a trace of a patch on the breast, light rose-red. 

Th*e tint of carmin- on the under parts varies a good deal in different specimens. 

Length, eight and fifty one-hundredths inches ; wing, four and fifteen one-hun- 
dredths inches. 

Hob. Eastern United States to the Missouri plains, south to Guatemala. 

This beautiful bird is a not very common summer inhabi- 
tant of New England. It seems to be pretty generally dis- 
tributed, but is in no locality plenty. It arrives about the 
first week in May in the southern districts of these States, 
and a fortnight later in the northern sections. It prefers 
the neighborhood of a swamp, and is most often found in 
low growths of birches and alders. The nest is placed 
in low shrubs and trees, often in the barberry-bush and 
alder, usually in the deep woods, sometimes in a pasture. 
It is loosely constructed of twigs and roots, and lined with 
grass and hair-like roots, and sometimes a few leaves. The 
eggs are usually four in number, more often less than 
more. Their ground-color is a greenish-blue : this is irregu- 
larly covered with fine spots and dashes of umber-brown, 
thickest at the greater end of the egg. Dimensions vary 
from 1 by .74 to .90 by .70 inch. One brood only is reared 
in the season in New England. I am aware that this 
description differs from those which have been written of the 
nest and eggs of this bird ; 1 but it is correct. I have had a 
number of the eggs, and have seen several of the nests : 
these were invariably of the above description, and differed 
in no essential particular, though from various localities. 

1 According to Bonaparte, its nest is concealed amidst the thick foliage of the 
shady forest ; externally, it is composed of twigs, and lined with slender grass ; and 
the eggs are four or five, white, spotted with brown. NUTTALL. 



330 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

The habits of this bird are pretty well known. It is a 
very fine songster, and is hardly excelled by any of our 
other species ; its notes being uttered, not only through the 
day, but also during the night, as I have heard on several 
occasions. The song is difficult of description: it is a 
sweet warble, with various emphatic passages, and some- 
times a plaintive strain, exceedingly tender and affecting. 

The Grosbeak feeds upon the seeds of the birches and 
alders, which it obtains very expertly. It also is very fond 
of various berries and buds, and it occasionally searches 
among the fallen leaves for insects and worms. 

After the young birds have become capable of providing 
for themselves, the whole family sometimes visit the orchards 
and gardens, where they eat a few berries and currants. 
By the middle of September, they proceed leisurely on their 
southern migration. 

CYANOSPIZA, BAIKD. 

Passerina, VIEILLOT, Analyse (1816). Not of Linnseus; used in Botany. 

Cyanospiza, BAIRD. (Type Tanagra cyanea, L.) 

Bill deep at the base, compressed ; the upper outline considerably curved ; the 
commissure rather concave, with an obtuse, shallow lobe in the middle; gonys 
slightly curved; feet moderate ; tarsus about equal to middle toe; the outer lateral 
toe barely longer than the inner, its claw falling short of the base of the middle ; 
hind toe about equal to the middle without claw; claws all much curved, acute; 
wings long and pointed, reaching nearly to the middle of the tail ; the second and 
third quills longest ; tail appreciably shorter than the wings, rather narrow, very 
nearly even. 

The species of this genus are all of very small size and of showy plumage, 
usually blue, red, or green, in well-defined areas. 

CYANOSPIZA CYANEA. Baird. 
The Indigo-bird. 

Tanagra cyanea, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat, I. (1766) 315. 

Frinyilla cyanea. Wils., I. (1810) 100; Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1832) 377; V. 503. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Male. Blue, tinged with ultramarine on the head, throat, and middle of breast; 
elsewhere with verdigris-green ; lores and anterior angle of chin velvet-black ; wing 
feathers brown, edged externally with dull bluish-brown. 



THE INDIGO-BIRD. 331 

Female. Brown above ; whitish, obscurely streaked or blotched with brownish- 
yellow beneath ; immature males similar, variously blotched with blue. 

Length, about five and seventy-five one-hundredths inches; wing, nearly three 
inches. 

Hob. Eastern United States to the Missouri, south to Guatemala. 

This beautiful species is pretty generally distributed 
throughout New England as a summer visitor, and is rather 
common in thickly settled districts. It arrives from the 
south about the 10th of May, and soon mates and selects its 
home for the ensuing summer. Says Nuttall, 

" Though naturally shy, active, and suspicious, they still, at this 
interesting period of procreation, resort chiefly to the precincts of 
habitations, around which they are far more common than in the 
solitary woods, seeking their borders, or the thickets by the sides of 
the road ; but their favorite resort is the garden, where, from the 
topmost bough of some tall tree, which commands the whole wide 
landscape, the male regularly pours out his lively chant, and 
continues it for a considerable length of time. Nor is this song 
confined to the cool and animating dawn of morning; but it is 
renewed and still more vigorous during the noonday heat of sum- 
mer. This lively strain seems composed of a repetition of short 
notes, commencing loud and rapid, and then, slowly falling, they 
descend almost to a whisper, succeeded by a silent interval of about 
half a minute, when the song is again continued as before. The 
most common of these vocal expressions sounds like, tshe tshe 
t s h e tshe tshee tshee tshe tshe tshe. The middle syllables are 
uttered lispingly in a very peculiar manner, and the three last 
gradually fall: sometimes it is varied and shortened into tshea 
tshea tshea tshreh, the last sound being sometimes doubled. This 
shorter song is usually uttered at the time that the female is 
engaged in the cares of incubation, or as the brood already appear, 
and when too great a display of his music might endanger the 
retiring security of his family." 

The Indigo-bird commences building about the last of 
May. The nest is usually placed in low bushes, often 
bramble and brier bushes, usually near houses and gar- 
dens : it is constructed of coarse sedge grass, some withered 



332 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

leaves, and lined with fine stalks of the same and the slen- 
der hair-like tops of the bent grass (agrostis), with a very 
few cow-hairs, though sometimes they make a substantial 
lining of hair. The eggs are four or five in number ; and 
their color is a nearly pure white, sometimes with a bluish 
tint. In a large number in my collection from L. E. Rick- 
seeker, of Pennsylvania, a few have scattered blotches of 
reddish-brown. Their size varies from .80 by .60 to .70 by 
.52 inch. But one brood is reared in the season in New 
England. 

About the middle of September, the whole family leaves 
New England, and winters in tropical America. 

PIPILO, VlEILLOT. 

Pipilo, VIEILLOT, Analyse (1816) Agassiz. (Type Fringilla erythrqphthalma, 
Linn.) 

Bill rather stout; the culmen gently curved, the gonys nearly straight; the com- 
missure gently concave with a decided notch near the end; the lower jaw not so 
deep as the upper, not as wide as the gonys is long, but wider than the base of the 
upper mandible ; feet large, the tarsus as long or a little longer than the middle 
toe ; the outer lateral toe a little the longer, and reaching a little beyond the base 
of the middle claw ; the hind claw about equal to its toe ; the two together about 
equal to the outer toe; claws all stout, compressed, and moderately curved; wings 
reaching about to the end of the upper tail coverts ; short and rounded, though the 
primaries are considerably longer than the nearly equal secondaries and tertials ; 
the outer four quills are graduated ; the first considerably shorter than the second, 
and about as long as the secondaries; tail considerably longer than the wings; 
moderately graduated externally ; the feathers rather broad ; most rounded off on 
the inner webs at the end. 

The colors vary; the upper parts are generally uniform black or brown; the 
under white or brown; no central streaks on the feathers. The hood sometimes 
differently colored. 

The essential characters of the genus are in the curved culmen and commissure ; 
the strong feet ; the outer toe rather longer than the inner ; the wings rounded, but 
the primaries decidedly longer than the others ; the outer four quills considerably 
graduated, but the first usually not shorter than the secondaries. The graduated 
tail longer than the wings. 

PIPILO ERYTHROPHTHALMUS. Vieillot. 
The Ground Robin ; Towhee ; Chewink. 

Fringilla erythrophthalma, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 318; Aud. Orn. Biog., 
I. (1832) 151; V. 511. 



THE GROUND ROBIN. 333 

Emberiza erythrophthalma, Gmelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 874; Wils. Am. Orn., 
VI. (1812) 90. 

Pipillo eryihrophthalmus, Vieillot. Gal. Ois., I. (1824) 109. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Upper parts generally, head and neck all round, and upper part of the breast, 
glossy black, abruptly defined against the pure white which extends to the anus, 
but is bounded on the sides and under the wings by light-chestnut; under coverts 
similar to sides, but paler; edges of outer six primaries with white at the base and 
on the middle of the outer web; inner two tertiaries also edged externally with 
white; tail feathers black; outer web of the first, with the ends of the first to the 
third white, decreasing from the exterior one. Female with the black replaced by 
brown ; iris red. 

Length, eight and seventy-five one-hundredths inches; wing, three and seventy- 
five one -huti dredths; tail, four and ten one-hundredths inches. 

This beautiful and well-known species, although common 
in "Massachusetts and the other southern New-England 
States, is rare in the three northern. It begins to grow 
scarce in the northern districts of Massachusetts ; and, before 
we have passed twenty miles beyond its northern limits, it is 
very rarely seen. It makes its appearance about the 20th 
of April, the males preceding the females by a week or ten 
days. As soon as the females arrive, the pairing season 
commences. The male, perched on a low limb of a tree or 
high bush, chants his pleasing song, sometimes for half an 
hour at a time : this song resembles the syllables, tow-hSe 
'die 'de 'de 'de 'de, uttered at first slowly and plaintively, and 
quickly increased in volume and rapidity of utterance. He 
has also a sort of quavering warble difficult of description. 
If he is approached, he watches the intruder, and, after 
ascertaining his business, utters his note tow-hSe, and pro- 
ceeds his search among the fallen leaves for his favorite food 
of worms, insects, and seeds, which he is almost continually 
scratching for among the dead vegetation. 

About the second week in May, the birds commence build- 
ing. The locality usually chosen is in low, thick woods, 
or in thickets of briers and bushes near streams of water, 
in which places this species is most often found. The nest 
is placed on the ground, usually beneath a bunch of grass, 



334 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

or in a pile of old brush and fagots : it is constructed of 
fine twigs, leaves, and grasses, and is lined with fine leaves 
of grasses, and sometimes a few hair-like roots. 

The eggs are usually four in number. Their ground color 
varies from grayish to reddish-white: this is covered, over 
the entire surface, with fine dots and points of reddish- 
brown : in some specimens these dots run into each other, 
and from small blotches. The average dimensions of a 
great number of specimens in my collection is about .94 by 
.76 inch. When placed in a tray beside an equal number 
of the eggs of the Brown Thrush, the eggs of this species 
appear much paler, and with a more roseate tint ; otherwise, 
except with regard to size, the two species resemble each 
other much. 

In New England, but one brood is usually reared in the 
season. I have found nests with young in June and 
August, but generally the first brood leaves the nest too late 
for another to be brought out before the early frosts. 

About the middle of October, the old birds and their 
young, in small detached flocks, leave New England on 
their southern migration. 



THE BOBOLINK. 335 



FAMILY ICTERID^. 

Primaries nine; tarsi scutellate anteriorly; plated behind; bill long, generally 
equal to the head or longer, straight or gently curved, conical, without any notch, 
the commissure bending downwards at an obtuse angle at the base ; gonys generally 
more than half the culmen; basal joint of the middle toe free on the inner side, 
united half-way on the outer ; tail rather long, rounded ; legs stout. 



Sub-Family AGELAEINJE. The Starlings. 

Bill stout, conical, and acutely pointed, not longer than the head ; the outlines 
nearly straight, the tip not decurved; legs adapted for walking, longer than the 
head ; claws not much curved ; tail moderate, shorter than the wings ; nearly even. . 

DOLICHONYX, SWAINSON. 

Dotichonyx, SWAINSON, Zool. Jour., III. (1827) 351. (Type Emberlza oryzivo- 
ra, L.) 

Bill short, stout, conical, little more than half the head ; the commissure slightly 
sinuated; the culmen nearly straight; middle toe considerably longer than the tar- 
sus (whicli is about as long as the head); the inner lateral toe longest, but not reach- 
ing the base of the middle claw; wings long, first quill longest; tail feathers 
acuminately pointed at the tip, with the shafts stiffened and rigid, as in the Wood- 
peckers. 

The peculiar characteristic of this species is found in the rigid scansorial tail and 
the very long middle toe, by means of which it is enabled to grasp the vertical stems 
of reeds or other slender plants. The color of the known species is black, varied 
with whitish patches on the upper parts. 

DOLICHONYX ORYZIVOEUS. Swainson. 
The Bobolink; Reed-bird; Bice-bird. 

Emberiza oryzivora, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 311. Wils. Am. Orn., II. 
(1810) 48. 

Dolichonyx oryzivora, Swainson. Zool. Jour., III. (1827) 351. 

Icterus agripennis, Bonaparte. Obs. Wils. (1824), No. 87. And. Orn. Biog., I. 
(1831) 283; V. (1839) 486. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 185. 

DESCRIPTION. 

General color of male in spring black; the nape brownish-cream color; a patch 
on the side of the breast, the scapulars and rump white, shading into light ash on 
the upper tail covers and the back below the interscapular region ; the outer prima- 
ries sharply margined with yellowish-white, the tertials less abruptly; the tail 
feathers margined at the tips with pale brownish-ash. In autumn similar to the 
female. 



336 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

\Female, yellowish beneath; two stripes on the top of the head, and the upper 
parts throughout, except the back of the neck and rump, and including all the wing 
feathers generally, dark-brown, all edged with brownish-yellow; which becomes 
whiter nearer the tips of the quills; the sides sparsely streaked with dark-brown, 
and a similar stripe behind the eye; there is a superciliary and a median band of 
yellow on the head. 

Length of male, seven and seventy one-hundredths inches; wing, three and 
eighty-three one-hundredths; tail, three and fifteen one-hundredths inches. 

Hob, Eastern United States to the high central plains. Seen fifty miles east 
of Laramie. 

THIS very common and well-known bird is abundantly 
scattered throughout southern New England as a sum- 
mer visitor j and is not rare in most of the northern sections. 
It seldom arrives before the 10th of May, when the males 
precede the females about a week, and the nest is not built 
before the last of that month. It is placed on the ground, 
usually beneath a tussock of grass in a field or meadow, 
and is very ingeniously and most often successfully con- 
cealed : it is constructed of grasses, which are so loosely 
arranged as to be hardly worth the dignity of the name of 
nest. The eggs are usually four in number : they vary in 
color from a light-brown with obscure spots of darker 
brown, to a dirty-gray color with bold blotches of brownish- 
black. Dimensions vary from .90 by .65 to .86 by .62 inch. 
But one brood is reared in the season. This bird is no 
great favorite in the southern portions of the United States, 
because of its habit of visiting the rice-fields in immense 
numbers, and devouring and destroying great quantities of 
that grain ; but in New England it is a general favorite. Its 
food while here consists of " all kinds of insects and worms," 
u the various kinds of grass seeds," " crickets and grass- 
hoppers, as well as beetles and spiders." 

The following interesting description of the general 
habits of this species is given by Alexander Wilson : 

"The winter residence of this species I suppose to be from 
Mexico to the mouth of the Amazon, from whence, in hosts innu- 
merable, they regularly issue every spring, perhaps to both hemi- 
spheres ; extending their migrations northerly as far as the banks of 




BOBOLINK, Reed-bird, Dolichonyjr oryzivorus. Swainson. 



THE BOBOLINK. 337 

the Illinois and the shores of the St. Lawrence. Could the fact 
be ascertained, which has been asserted by some writers, that the 
emigration of these birds was altogether unknown in this part of 
the continent, previous to the introduction of rice plantations, it 
would certainly be interesting. Yet why should these migrations 
reach at least a thousand miles beyond those places where rice is 
now planted ; and this, not in occasional excursions, but regularly 
to breed, and rear their young, where rice never was, and probably 
never will be, cultivated ? Their so-recent arrival on this part of 
the continent, I believe to be altogether imaginary ; because, though 
there were not a single grain of rice cultivated within the United 
States, the country produces an exuberance of food of which they 
are no less fond. Insects of various kinds, grubs, May-flies, and 
caterpillars ; the young ears of Indian corn and the seed of the 
wild oats, or, as it is called in Pennsylvania, reeds (the Zizania 
aquatica of Linnaeus), which grows in prodigious abundance along 
the marshy shores of our large rivers, furnish, not only them, but 
millions of Rail, with a delicious subsistence for several weeks. I 
do not doubt, however, that the introduction of rice, but more par- 
ticularly the progress of agriculture, in this part of America, has 
greatly increased their numbers, by multiplying their sources of 
subsistence fifty-fold within the same extent of country. 

" In the month of April, or very early in May, the Rice Bunt- 
ings, male and female, arrive within the southern boundaries of the 
United States ; and are seen around the town of Savannah, in 
Georgia, about the 4th of May, sometimes in separate parties of 
males and females, but more generally promiscuously. They 
remain there but a short time; and, about the 12th of May, make 
their appearance in the lower parts of Pennsylvania, as they did at 
Savannah. While here, the males are extremely gay and full of 
song, frequenting meadows, newly ploughed fields, sides of creeks, 
rivers, and watery places ; feeding on May-flies and caterpillars, of 
which they destroy great quantities. In their passage, however, 
through Virginia at this season, they do great damage to the early 
wheat and barley, while in its milky state. About the 20th of 
May, they disappear, on their way to the North. Nearly at the 
same time, they arrive in the State of New York, spread over 
the whole New-England States, as far as the River St. Lawrence, 

22 



338 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

from Lake Ontario to the sea ; in all of which places, north of 
Pennsylvania, they remain during the summer, building, and rear- 
ing their young. The nest is fixed in the ground, generally in a 
field of grass : the outside is composed of dry leaves and coarse 
grass ; the inside is lined with fine stalks of the same, laid in con- 
siderable quantity. The female lays five eggs of a bluish-white, 
marked with numerous irregular spots of blackish-brown. The 
song of the male, while the female is sitting, is singular, and very 
agreeable. Mounting and hovering on wing at a small height 
above the field, he chants out such a jingling medley of short, 
variable notes, uttered with such seeming confusion and rapidity, 
and continued for a considerable time, that it appears as if half a 
dozen birds of different kinds were all singing together. Some 
idea may be formed of this song by striking the high keys of a 
piano-forte at random singly and quickly, making as many sudden 
contrasts of high and low notes as possible. Many of the tones 
are, in themselves, charming ; but they succeed each other so rap- 
idly that the ear can hardly separate them. Nevertheless, the 
general effect is good ; and, when ten or twelve are all singing on 
the same tree, the concert is singularly pleasing. I kept one of 
these birds for a long time, to observe its change of color. During 
the whole of April, May, and June, it sang almost continually. 
In the month of June, the color of the male begins to change, 
gradually assimilating to that of the female ; and, before the 
beginning of August, it is difficult to distinguish the one from 
the other. At this time, also, the young birds are so much like 
the female, or rather like both parents, and the mates so different 
in appearance from what they were in spring, that thousands of 
people in Pennsylvania, to this day, persist in believing them to 
be a different species altogether ; while others allow them, indeed, 
to be the same, but confidently assert that they are all females, 
none but females, according to them, returning in the fall : what 
becomes of the males they are totally at a loss to conceive. Even 
Mr. Mark Catesby, who resided for years in the country they 
inhabit, and who, as he himself informs us, examined, by dissec- 
tion, great numbers of them in the fall, and repeated his experi- 
ment the succeeding year, lest he should have been mistaken, 
declares that he uniformly found them to be females. These 



THE COW BLACKBIRD. 339 

assertions must appear odd to the inhabitants of the Eastern 
States, to whom the change of plumage in these birds is familiar, 
as it passes immediately under their eye ; and also to those who, 
like myself, have kept them in cages, and witnessed their gradual 
change of color." 

About the first week in August, the old and young birds 
collect in large flocks ; and, early in September, they all 
depart for the South. 

MOLOTHRUS, SWAINSON. 

Molothrus, SWAINSON, F. Bor. Am., II. (1831) 277. (Type Fringitta pecoris, Gm.) 
Bill short, stout, about two-thirds the length of head; the commissure straight; 
ctilmen and gonys slightly curved, convex, the former broad, rounded, convex, and 
running back on the head in a point ; lateral toes nearly equal, reaching the base of 
the middle one, which is shorter than the tarsus; claws rather small; tail nearly 
even; wings long, pointed, the first quill longest. 

MOLOTHRUS PECORIS. Swainson. 
The Cow Blackbird; Cowbird. 

Fringitta pecoris, Gmelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 910. 
Emberiza pecoris, Wilson. Am. Orn., II. (1810) 145. 

Icterus pecoris, Bonaparte. Obs. Wils. (1824), No. 88. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1831) 
493; V. (1839) 233, 490. 

Icterus (emberizoides] pecoris, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 178; 2d ed., 190. 
Molothrus pecoris, Swainson. F. Bor. Am., II. (1831) 277. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Second quill longest; first scarcely shorter; tail nearly even, or very slightly 
rounded; male with the head, neck, and anterior half of the breast, light chocolate- 
brown, rather lighter above; rest of body lustrous-black, with a violet-purple gloss, 
next to the brown, of steel-blue on the back, and of green elsewhere. Female, light 
olivaceous-brown all over, lighter on the head and beneath ; bill and feet black. 

The young bird of the year is brown above, brownish- white beneath; the throat 
immaculate; a maxillary stripe and obscure streaks thickl}" crowded across the 
whole breast and sides ; there is a faint indication of a pale superciliary stripe ; 
the feathers of the upper parts are all margined with paler ; there are also indications 
of the light bands on the wings; these markings are all obscure, but perfectly appre- 
ciable, and their existence in adult birds may be considered as embryonic, and show- 
ing an inferiority in degree to the species with the under parts perfectly plain. 

Length, eight inches ; wing, four and forty-two one-hundredths inches ; tail, three 
and forty one-hundredths inches. 

Hob. United States from the Atlantic to California : not found immediately on 
the coast of the Pacific. 



340 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

Tliis common and well-known bird is abundantly dis- 
tributed throughout New England as a summer visi- 
tor. It makes its first appearance about the middle of 
March in Massachusetts, and, instead of mating and sep- 
arating into pairs, remains in small flocks through the 
summer. 

At all times, the males and females congregate together 
and visit the fields and pastures, (where they destroy num- 
bers of insects, principally Orthoptera), and are usually in 
greatest numbers where droves of cattle are assembled. 
The male, in spring and early summer, has a guttural song, 
which he utters from a tall tree, sometimes an hour at a 
time. This song resembles the syllables ^cluk 'seee. When 
he emits this note, he bristles out the feathers of his neck, 
and spreads his tail, and seems to swell out his body with 
the effort to produce an agreeable tone. 

When the desire for laying is awakened in the female, 
instead of building a nest of her own, she seeks the tene- 
ment of some other bird, usually a smaller species than 
herself; and, watching an opportunity when the other bird 
has left it, she drops an egg in it, and leaves it to the tender 
mercies of the owner of the nest. The birds most often 
chosen for this purpose are the Vireos, Warblers, and Spar- 
rows : sometimes the Small Thrushes are thus imposed upon, 
and rarely the Wrens. 

Some birds build over the stranger egg a new nest. I 
have in my collection a nest of the Yellow Warbler thus 
doubled, and another of the Goldfinch. Sometimes the 
nest is abandoned, particularly if the owner has no eggs of 
her own ; but usually the intruding egg is hatched, and the 
young bird attended with all the care given to the legitimate 
young. The eggs of this species are of a grayish-white, 
with fine spots of brown over the entire surface. Their 
dimensions vary from .96 by .70 to .80 by .62 inch : some 
specimens are marked with very minute reddish dots, which 
are scattered over the entire surface ; others have bold 




RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD, Agelaius phceniceus. Vieillot. 



THE SWAMP BLACKBIRD. 341 

dashes and confluent blotches of brown, thickest at the 
greater end. 1 

By the last week in October, the young and old birds 
assemble in large flocks, and leave for -the South. 

AGELAIUS, VIEILLOT. 

Agelaius, VIEILLOT, "Analyse, 1816." (Type Oriolus Phoeniceus, L.) 
First quill shorter than second ; claws short ; the outer lateral scarcely reaching 
the base of the middle; culmen depressed at base, parting the frontal feathers; 
length equal to that of the head, shorter than tarsus ; both mandibles of equal thick- 
ness and acute at tip, the edges much curved, the culmen, gonys, and commissure 
nearly straight or slightly sinuated; the length of bill about twice its height; tail 
moderately rounded, or very slightly graduated ; wings pointed, reaching to end of 
lower tail coverts ; colors black, with red shoulders in North-American species. 

The nostrils are small, oblong, overhung by a membranous scale ; the bill is 
higher than broad at the base; there is no division between the anterior tarsal 
scutellae and the single plate on the outside of the tarsus. 

AGELAIUS PHCENICEUS. Vidllot. 
The Swamp Blackbird; Red-wing Blackbird. 

Oriolus Phoeniceus, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 161. 
Agelaius Phoeniceus, Vieillot. Anal. (1816). 

Icterus Phoeniceus, Audubon. Orn. Biog., I. (1831) 348; V. (1839) 487. 
Icterus (Xanthornus Phoeniceus), Bonaparte. Syn. (1828), 52. Nutt. Man., I. 
(1832) 167. 

Sturnus prcedatorius, Wilson. Am. Orn., IV. (1811) 30. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Tail much rounded ; the lateral feathers about half an inch shorter ; fourth quill 
longest; first about as long as the fifth; bill large, stout; half as high, or more than 
half as high as long. 

Male. General color uniform lustrous velvet-black, with a greenish reflection ; 
shoulders and lesser wing coverts of a bright-crimson or vermilion-red ; middle 
coverts brownish-yellow, and usually paler towards the tips. 

1 By an amusing yet incomprehensible mistake of the printer, the subjoined 
description of eggs, &c., was annexed to this species, in an article published in the 
" Report of the U. S. Department of Agriculture for 1864," p. 426. It belongs to 
the Chewink or Ground Robin, page 425 of that volume: "Their form varies from 
elongated oval to nearly spherical. The dimensions of a nest complement of four 
eggs, collected in Quincy, Mass., are 1 by .74 inch, .96 by .72 inch, .90 by .70 inch, 
.90 by .68 inch : other specimens do not vary materially from these measurements. 
But one brood is usually reared in the season. This bird, although subsisting prin- 
cipally on various seeds and small fruits, destroys great numbers of insects, particu- 
larly in the breeding season : in fact, its young are fed entirely on insects and their 
larvae, and the well-known wire- worms." 



342 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

Female. Brown above, the feathers edged or streaked with rufous-brown and 
yellowish ; beneath white, streaked with brown ; forepart of throat, superciliary, and 
median stripe strongly tinged with brownish-yellow. 

The female differs greatly in appearance ; the prevailing color above is brownish- 
black, all the feathers margined with reddish-brown; some of those on the back 
with brownish-yellow, which, on the median and greater wing coverts, forms two 
bands; the under parts are dull-whitish, each feather broadly streaked centrally with 
dark-brown ; the chin and throat yellowish, and but little streaked ; there is a dis- 
tinct whitish superciliary streak alongside the head, tinged anteriorly with brownish- 
yellow, and another less distinct in the median line of the crown ; there is usually 
no indication of any red on th wing ; the immature males exhibit every possible 
condition of coloration between that of the old male and of the female. 

Length of male, nine and fifty one-hundredths inches ; wing, five inches ; tail, 
four and fifteen one-hundredths inches. 

This common and well-known species makes its appear- 
ance about the middle of March. It arrives in small flocks, 
the males preceding the females a week or ten days. On 
its arrival, it frequents the meadows and swamps, where, 
from early dawn to twilight, its song of quonk a ree is 
heard, sometimes uttered by a half-dozen birds at a time. 
As soon as the females arrive, the birds mate, and disperse 
through these States, but not so abundantly in the northern 
as in the southern districts. It commences building about 
the first week in May. The nest is usually placed in a 
tussock of grass or low bush in a meadow and swamp : it 
is constructed of coarse grasses, which are woven and 
intwined into a strong fabric, into which are incorporated 
the grass to which it is suspended, or the twigs of the bush 
in which it is built. It is deeply hollowed, and lined with 
fine grasses, and sometimes a few hair-like roots. The eggs 
are four or five in number ; and they vary, in color, two or 
three shades of light-blue : they are marked with spots and 
streaks of vandyke-brown and black, generally distributed 
thickest at the greater end. Their dimensions vary from 
1.05 by .75 inch to .90 by .66 inch. Average size about 
.97 by .70 inch. 

Sometimes several pairs breed in the same swamp or 
meadow : they always fly to meet an intruder in their 
haunts, and hover over him, uttering their cries of anger 



THE MEADOW-LARK. 343 

and complaint ; and, as the alarm passes along the country, 
sometimes as many as a dozen or twenty birds are hovering 
over him, scolding vociferously. 

Two broods are usually reared in the season : as soon as 
the last brood leaves the nest, the whole family joins with 
its neighbors into a flock of sometimes a hundred or hun- 
dred and fifty or more. They then visit the grain-fields, and 
inflict considerable damage by eating and destroying the 
grain. In many localities, they are so numerous at this 
season, that they are a serious nuisance ; and the farmers 
destroy great numbers of them with poison and with the 
gun. 

Localities in the neighborhood of the seaboard are thus 
afflicted more than others ; and I have seen flocks of these 
birds in Plymouth County, Mass., containing as many as a 
thousand individuals. 

About the last of October, they depart on their southern 
migration. 

STURNELLA, VIEILLOT 

Sturnella, VIEILLOT, Analyse (1816). (Type Alauda magna, L.) 
Body thick, stout; legs large, toes reaching beyond the tail; tail short, even, 
with narrow acuminate feathers ; bill slender, elongated ; length about three times 
the height; commissure straight from the basal angle; culmen flattened basally, 
extending backwards, and parting the frontal feathers; longer than the head, but 
shorter than tarsus; nostrils linear, covered by an incumbent membranous sca.le; 
inner lateral toe longer than the outer, but not reaching to basal joint of middle: 
hind toe a little shorter than the middle, which is equal to the tarsus; hind claw- 
nearly twice as long as the middle; feathers of head stiffened and bristly; the 
shafts of those above extended into a black seta; tertiaries nearly equal to the 
primaries; feathers above all transversely banded; beneath yellow, with a black 
pectoral crescent. 

STUENELLA MAGNA. Swainson. 
The Meadow-lark; Old Field-lark. 

Alauda magna, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1758) 167, 10th ed. (based on Alauda 
magna, Catesby, tab. 33). Wils. Am. Orn., III. (1811) 20. 
Sturnella magna, Swainson. Phil. Mag., I. (1827) 438. 
Sturnus Ludovicianus, Audubon. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 216; V. (1839) 492. 
Sturnella Ludoviciana, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 147. 



344 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

DESCRIPTION. 

The feathers above dark-brown, margined with brownish-white, and with a ter- 
minal blotch of pale reddish-brown ; exposed portions of wings and tail with trans- 
verse dark-brown bars, which on the middle tail feathers are confluent along the 
shaft; beneath yellow, with a black pectoral crescent, the yellow not extending on 
the side of the maxilla ; sides, crissum, and tibiae pale reddish-brown, streaked with 
blackish ; a light median and superciliary stripe, the latter yellow anterior to the 
eye; a black line behind. 

Length, ten and sixty one-hundredth s inches; wing, five; tail, three and seventy 
one-hundredths inches ; bill above, one and thirty-five one-hundredths inches. 

This beautiful and well-known bird is a common summer 
inhabitant of the three southern New-England States, and 
is not rare in the others. In mild winter, it remains through 




the year ; but generally leaves for the South late in the 
fall, and returns about the " second or third week in 
March." It commences building about the second week 
in May, sometimes earlier: the locality is generally in a 
meadow or low field. The nest is usually built in a tussock 
of grass : it " is pretty compact, made of dry, wiry grass, 
to which a hidden and almost winding path is made, and 
generally so well concealed that the nest is only to be found 
when the bird is flushed." NUTTALL. 

A number of nests that I have examined agree with this 
description : all were beneath bunches of grass ; and, though 



THE MEADOW-LARK. 345 

some were only partly covered, still there was a decided 
roof to all. The eggs are usually four in number: their 
color is generally nearly pure-white, sometimes reddish- 
white, with fine spots of reddish-brown diffused over the 
entire surface of some specimens ; on others, thinly scat- 
tered spots, blotches of two or three shades of brown and 
lilac. Their dimensions vary from 1.10 by .85 to 1 by .78 
inch. Their form is usually a rounded oval. 

A rather peculiar specimen, kindly presented me by 
Mr. J. P. Norris, of Philadelphia, is nearly spherical in 
form, rosy-white in color, with exceedingly minute dots of 
reddish. Size, 1.05 by .90 inch. Nuttall says of the food 
of this species, 

" Their food consists of the larvae of various insects, as well as 
worms, beetles, and grass seeds, to assist the digestion of which 
they swallow a considerable portion of gravel. It does not appear 
that this species ever adds berries or fruits of any kind to his fare, 
like the Starling, but usually remains the whole summer in moist 
meadows ; and in winter retires to the open, grassy woods, having 
no inclination to rob the orchard or garden ; and, except in winter, 
is of a shy, timid, and retiring disposition." 

But one brood is reared in the season. 

In the autumn, the Larks collect in small flocks of ten or 
a dozen, which visit the marshes and stubble-fields in their 
neighborhood. Their note at this season, as in other periods 
of the year, is nothing but a shrill, prolonged, plaintive 
whistle. Usually one bird of a flock is perched on a tree 
or fence-post as a sentinel ; and, the moment a gunner 
approaches, the bird gives his alarm, and the flock is 011 the 
qui vive. They are so shy that it is extremely difficult to 
approach them ; and, when shot at, they are secured only by 
guns of long range. Their flight is a peculiar hovering 
one, the wings moving in short, almost imperceptible, 
vibrations. 



346 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



Sub-Family ICTERIN^E. The Opioles. 

Bill slender, elongated, as long as the head, generally a little decurved, and very 
acute; tarsi not longer than the middle toe, nor than the head; claws short, much 
curved ; outer lateral toe a little longer than the inner, reaching a little beyond base 
of middle toe; feet adapted for perching; tail rounded or graduated; prevailing 
colors yellow or orange, and black. 



ICTERUS SPURIUS. Bonaparte. 
The Orchard Oriole. 

Oridus spurius, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 162. 

Icterus spurius, Bonaparte. Obs. on Norn. Wils. (1825), No. 44. Aud. Orn. 
Biog., I. (1831; 221; V. 485. 

Oriolus mutatus, Wilson. Am. Orn., I. (1808) 64. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill slender, attenuated, considerably decurved ; tail moderately graduated. 

Male. Head and neck all round, wings, and interscapular region of back, with 
tail feathers, black; rest of under parts, lower part of back to tail, and lesser upper 
wing coverts, with ^ie lower one, brownish-chestnut; a narrow line across the wing, 
and the extreme outer edges of quills, white. 

Female. Uniform greenish-yellow beneath, olivaceous above, and browner in 
the middle of the back; two white bands on the wings. Young male like the female, 
with a broad black patch from the bill to the upper part of the breast; this color 
extending along the base of the bill so as to involve the eye and all anterior to it to 
the base of the bill. 

In this species the bill is slender, attenuated, and a good deal decurved to the 
tip. The second and third quills are longest; the first intermediate between 
the fourth and fifth. The tail is rather long ; the feathers moderately graduated, the 
greatest difference in length amounting to half an inch. 

The black of the throat extends backwards as far as the bend of the wing, and 
ends as an obtuse angle. The tail feathers are entirely black, with dull whitish tips 
when not fully mature. 

Specimens are found in all stages between the characters given above. When 
nearly mature, some yellowish feathers are found mixed in with the chestnut ones. 

Length of specimens, seven and twenty-five one-hundredths inches; wing, three 
and twenty-five one-huudredths inches. 

This bird is racier rare in New England, and is confined 
to the southern districts as a summer visitor. It arrives 
about the second week in May, and commences building 
about the first week in June. The nest is usually placed in 
a forked branch of a tree in the orchard, seldom more than 
twenty feet from the ground. It is constructed of different 








ORCHARD ORIOLE, Icterus spurius. Bonaparte. 



THE ORCHARD ORIOLE. 347 

grasses, which are woven together very neatly and com- 
pactly : the whole is lined with fine grass, and sometimes a 
few horsehairs. It is not pensile, but is built on the branch. 
The eggs are four or five in number : their color varies from 
a light-blue to a fleshy tint, which is marked with irregu- 
lar spots and lines of obscure lavender, over which are bold 
spots and blotches of black and brown. The dimensions 
vary from .86 to .56 by .54 inch. But one brood is reared 
in the season. 

Nuttall, in describing the habits of this species, says, 

" The Orchard Oriole is an exceedingly active, sprightly, and 
restless bird : in- the same instant almost, he is on the ground after 
some fallen insect ; fluttering amidst the foliage of the trees, prying 
and springing after his lurking prey ; or flying, and tuning his lively 
notes in a manner so hurried, rapid, and seemingly confused, that 
the ear is scarce able to thread out the shrill and lively syllables 
of his agitated ditty. Between these hurried attempts, he also 
gives others, which are distinct and agreeable ; but still his tones 
are neither so full nor so mellow as those of the brilliant and gay 
Baltimore." 

After a description of the nest and eggs, he continues : 

"The female sits about fourteen days, and the young continue 
in the nest ten (?) days before they become qualified to flit along 
with their parents ; but they are generally seen abroad about the 
middle of June. Previously to their departure, the young, leaving 
the care of their parents, become gregarious, and assemble some- 
times in flocks of separate sexes, from thirty to forty upwards ; in 
the South, frequenting the savannahs, feeding much on crickets, 
grasshoppers, and spiders. According to Audubon, they sing with 
great liveliness in cages, being fed on rice and dry fruits, when 
fresh cannot be procured. Their ordinary diet, it appears, is cater- 
pillars and insects, of which they destroy great quantities. In the 
course of the season, they likewise feed on various kinds of juicy 
fruits and berries ; but their depredations on the fruits of the orchard 
are very unimportant." 



348 



ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



None of this species are to be found in New England after 
the 1st of September : they leave in small, scattered flocks, 
consisting of the old and young birds of a family. 



ICTERUS BALTIMORE. Daudin. 
The Baltimore Oriole; Golden Robin; Hang-nest. 

Oriolus Baltimore, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 162. Wils. Am. Orn., I. 
(1808) 23. 

" Icterus Baltimore, Daudin." Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1831) 66; V. (1839) 278. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Tail nearly even ; head all round and to middle of back, scapulars, wings, and 
upper surface of tail, black ; rest of under parts, rump, upper tail coverts, and lesser 
wing coverts, with terminal portion of tail feathers (except two innermost), orange- 
red; edges of wing quills, with a band across the tips of the greater coverts, 
white. 

The female is much less brilliant in color; the black of the head and back gene- 
rally replaced by brownish-yellow, purer on the throat; each feather with a black 
spot. 

Length, seven and fifty one-hundredths inches; wing, three and seventy-five 
one-hundredths inches. 

This wellrknown species is abundantly distributed through- 
out New England as a summer visitor. It makes its appear- 
ance about the 1st of May in Massachusetts, and about the 

middle of that month 
in Maine, in the north- 
ern districts. It com- 
mences building about 
the 20th of May. The 
nest is usually fixed 
in an elm-tree near 
houses, or in an apple 
or pear tree in the or- 
chard. Nuttall's de- 
scription of the nest 
is the best that I have ever seen, and much better than 
any I could make : although somewhat lengthy, I give it 
entire : 




THE BALTIMORE ORIOLE. 349 



" There is nothing more remarkable in the whole instinct of our 
Golden Robin than the ingenuity displayed in the fabrication of its 
nest, which is, in fact, a pendulous, cylindric pouch of five to seven 
inches in depth, usually suspended from near the extremities of the 
high drooping branches of trees (such as the elm, the pear, or apple 
tree, wild cherry, weeping willow, tulip-tree, or buttonwood). It 
is begun by firmly fastening natural strings of the flax of the silk- 
weed, or swamp hollyhock, or stout artificial threads, around two or 
more forked twigs, corresponding to the intended width and depth 
of the nest. With the same materials, willow-down, or any acci- 
dental ravellings, strings, thread, sewing-silk, tow, or wool, that may 
be lying near the neighboring houses, or around grafts of trees, they 
interweave and fabricate a sort of coarse cloth into the form in- 
tended, towards the bottom of which they place the real nest, made 
chiefly of lint, wiry grass, horse and cow hair : sometimes, in defect 
of hair, lining the interior with a mixture of slender strips of 
smooth vine-bark, and rarely with a few feathers ; the whole being 
of a considerable thickness, and more or less attached to the exter- 
nal pouch. Over the top, the leaves, as they grow out, form a 
verdant and agreeable canopy, defending the young from the sun 
and rain. There is sometimes a considerable difference in the 
manufacture of these nests, as well as in the materials which enter 
into their composition. Both sexes seem to be equally adepts at 
this sort of labor; and I have seen the female alone perform the 
whole without any assistance, and the male also complete this 
laborious task nearly without the aid of his consort, who, however, 
in general, is the principal worker." 

The eggs are four or five in number. They are of a flesh- 
color, with sometimes a bluish tint : they are marked with 
obscure lines of lavender, over which are irregular scratches 
and lines, as if done with a pen, of van dyke-brown and 
black. Their dimensions vary from 1 by .72 to .88 by .66 
inch. The food of this bird, and also of the preceding 
species, consists of caterpillars and other injurious insects : 
great numbers of the hairy caterpillars are destroyed ; and 
sometimes a large nest of the apple-tree caterpillars is de- 
populated in a few days. The Orioles are certainly, there- 



350 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

fore, worthy the highest consideration and protection from 
the farmer. 

The familiarity of this bird with man, and its sociable and 
genial disposition, are so well known that any description 
of its habits here is unnecessary. About the middle of 
September, after forming into small detached flocks, this 
species leaves New England on its southern migration. 



Sub-Family QUISCALIN^E. The Blackbirds. 

Bill rather attenuated, as long or longer than the head ; the culmen curved, the 
tip much bent down ; the cutting edges inflected, so as to impart a somewhat tubular 
appearance to each mandible 1 ; the commissure sinuated; tail longer than the wings, 
usually much graduated; legs longer than the head, fitted for walking. 

The bill of the Quiscalince is very different from that of the other Icteridx, and is 
readily recognized by the tendency to a rounding inward along the cutting edges, 
rendering the width in a cross section of the bill considerably less along the commis- 
sure than above or below. The culmen is more curved than in the Agelairue. 

The only genera in the United States are as follows: 

SCOLECOPHAGUS. Tail shorter than the wings, nearly even ; bill shorter than 
the head. 

QUISCALUS. Tail longer than the wings, much graduated; bill as long as or 
longer than the head. 

SCOLECOPHAGUS, SWAIKSON. 

Scolecophagus, SWAINSON, F. Bor. Am.. II. (1831). (Type Oriolus ferrugineus, 
Gmelin.) 

Bill shorter than the head, rather slender, the edges inflexed as in Quiscalus, which 
it otherwise greatly resembles ; the commissure sinuated ; culmen rounded, but not 
flattened; tarsi longer than the middle toe; tail even, or slightly rounded. 



SCOLECOPHAGUS FERRUGINEUS. Swainson. 
The Rusty Blackbird. 

Cracula ferruginea, Wilson. Am. Orn., III. (1811) 41. 

Quiscalus ferrugineus, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 199. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 
315; V. (1839)483. 

Scolecophagus ferrugineus, Swainson. F. Bor. Am., II. (1831) 286. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill slender, shorter than the head, about equal to the hind toe ; its height not 
quite two-fifths the total length ; wing nearly an inch longer than the tail ; second 
quill longest; first a little shorter than the fourth ; tail slightly graduated ; the lateral 



THE RUSTY BLACKBIRD. 351 

feathers about a quarter of an inch shortest ; general color black, with purple reflec- 
tions; the wings, under tail coverts, and hinder part of the belly, glossed with 
green. Female, dull-brown. Iris, pale-straw color. 

Length, nine and fifty one-hundredth s inches; wing, four and seventy-five one- 
hundredths ; tail, four inches. 

This bird is not uncommon in the New-England States in 
the spring and fall migrations, but is never plenty, and 
retires to high latitudes to breed. A few remain in the 
northern districts of Maine and New Hampshire through 
the breeding season ; but their nests are seldom found. 
While in the valley of the Magalloway River, in Maine, in 
June, 1864, I found several ; and two of them contained 
three eggs in each. These nests were all built in low alders 
overhanging the water: they were constructed of, first, a 
layer of twigs and brier-stalks ; on this was built the nest 
proper, which was composed of stalks and leaves of grass, 
which were mixed with mud, and moulded into a firm, cir- 
cular structure, and lined with fine leaves of grass and a few 
hair-like roots. The whole formed a large structure, easily 
seen at the distance of a few rods through the foliage. 

The eggs are of a bluish-white color, of oval form, and 
covered with fine scratches and spots of light-brown. These 
markings are almost exactly similar to those on the egg of 
the Great-crested Flycatcher : they appear as if done with 
a pen, which, as soon as it is pressed forcibly on the object, 
is suddenly withdrawn, making a mark wide at one end, 
and sharply pointed at the other. 

The dimensions of three eggs in my collection are 1.04 
by .76 inch, 1.05 by .75 inch, 1 by .70 inch. 

The habits of this species are less known than those of 
any of our other Blackbirds. This is owing as much to 
its unsociable, retiring disposition as to the scarcity of its 
numbers. When it arrives in spring, sometimes as early 
as the third week in March, it frequents the low, swampy 
thickets, where, in companies of three or four, it employs it- 
self in searching for seeds of various aquatic grasses, insects, 
worms, and the small crustacae found in such localities. 



352 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

If approached, it flies a short distance into a low tree, and 
watches the intruder, uttering its alarm-note check, some- 
times, cheek-die wdech or check die weecha. This note is 
uttered by both sexes, and seems to be the only song pos- 
sessed by either. I have observed them carefully, not only 
in the spring, biit during the breeding season and in the 
autumn, and I never heard them emit any other. Both 
sexes incubate, and manifest great anxiety when the nest is 
approached ; the males flying and scolding over the head 
of the intruder, in the manner of the Red-winged Blackbird. 
As I paddled my canoe up beneath one of the nests de- 
scribed above, the parent bird remained sitting, almost until 
my hand touched the limb on which the structure was 
placed. On flying off, she uttered a chattering cry, almost 
exactly like that of the female Redwing when disturbed 
in a similar manner. 

Early in September, the old and young birds collect in 
small detached flocks, "and frequent the same localities that 
they haunt in spring, from which they occasionally visit old 
cornfields and stubble-fields, where they catch grasshoppers 
and other insects, and eat the seed of weeds and such grains 
as are left by the farmer after harvesting. 

They remain in southern New England until early in 
November. 

QUISCALUS, VIEILLOT. 

Quiscalus, VIKILLOT, Analyse (1816). (Gray.) (Type Gracula quiscala, L.) 
Bill as long as the head, the culmen slightly curved, the gonys almost straight; 
the edges of the bill inflected and rounded; the commissure quite strongly sinuated; 
outlines of tarsal scutellae well defined on the sides; wings shorter than the tail, 
sometimes much more so; tail long, the feathers conspicuously and decidedly gradu- 
ated. Colors black. 

QUISCALUS VEESICOLOR Vieillot. 
The Crow Blackbird ; Purple Grakle. 

Gracula quiscala, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 165. Wils. Am. Orn., III. 
(1811)44. 

Quiscalus versicobr, Vieillot. Analyse? (1816). Jb., Nouv. Diet., XXVIII. 
(1819) 488. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 194. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1831) 35; V. (1838) 481. 




CROW BLACKBIRD, Quiscalus versicolor. Vieillot. 



THE CROW BLACKBIRD. 353 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill above, about as long as the head, more than twice as long as high ; the com- 
missure moderately sinuated and considerably decurved at tip ; tail a little shorter 
than the wing, much graduated, the lateral feathers one and ten one-hundredths 
inches shorter; third quill longest, first between fourth and fifth; head and neck all 
well defined steel-blue; the rest of the body with varied reflections of bronze, 
golden, green, copper, and purple, the latter most conspicuous on the tail, the tail 
coverts, and wings; the edges of primaries and of tail greenish. Female similar, 
but smaller and duller, with perhaps more green on the head. Iris, yellow. 

Length, three inches; wings, six; tail, five and eighty one-hundredths; bill 
above, one and twenty-five one-hundredths inches. 

This very common and well-known bird is distributed 
throughout New England in the summer season ; arriving 
about the first week in April. It is a social species ; and, 
instead of breaking up into scattered pairs, the birds 
remain in flocks, and breed in communities, sometimes 
several pairs on one tree. The nest is composed of mud, 
in which grass, seaweed, fine roots, and other like mate- 
rials, are mixed and woven into a large, compact structure, 
which is lined with fine grass, seaweeds, and sometimes 
a few horsehairs. 

The eggs are four or five in number. They vary in color 
from light-blue to light-brown, and are marked with obscure 
spots of light-brown, over which are laid blotches and lines 
of black and umber-brown. They vary in dimensions from 
1.30 by .88 to 1.18 by .84 inch. Usually, but one brood is 
reared in the season ; and in September the birds collect 
into immense flocks, and do considerable mischief in the 
cornfields : in other seasons, their food consists of " Iarva3, 
caterpillars, moths, and beetles, of which they devour such 
numbers, that, but for this providential economy, the whole 
crop of grain in many places would probably be destroyed 
by the time it began to germinate." 

Wilson, in describing the habits of this species, says, 

" The trees where these birds build are often at no great distance 
from the farm-house, and overlook the plantations. From thence 
they issue in all directions, and with as much confidence, to make 
their daily depredations among the surrounding fields, as if tho 

23 



354 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

whole were intended for their use alone. Their chief attention, 
however, is directed to the Indian corn in all its progressive stages. 
As soon as the infant blade of this grain begins to make its appear- 
ance above ground, the Grakles hail the welcome signal with 
screams of peculiar satisfaction ; and, without waiting for a formal 
invitation from the proprietor, descend on the fields, and begin to 
pull up and regale themselves on the seed, scattering the green 
blades around. While thus eagerly employed, the vengeance of the 
gun sometimes overtakes them ; but these disasters are soon forgot- 
ten, and those 

* Who live to get away, 
Return to steal, another day/ 

About the beginning of August, when the young ears are in their 
milky state, they are attacked with redoubled eagerness by the 
Grakles and Redwings, in formidable and combined bodies. They 
descend like a blackening, sweeping tempest on the corn, dig off 
the external covering of twelve or fifteen coats of leaves as dex- 
terously as if done by the hand of man, and, having laid bare the 
ear, leave little behind to the farmer but the cobs and shrivelled 
skins that contained their favorite fare. I have seen fields of corn 
of many acres, where more than one-half was thus ruined." 

About the last week in September, these birds, in im- 
mense flocks, depart on their southern migration : so abun- 
dant are they at that time, and so closely do they fly 
together in a flock, that I have killed, at one discharge of 
my gun, over a dozen birds. They visit the beech woods, 
and also the oak groves, and feed upon the nuts found 
on and beneath those trees. They also eat the seeds of 
weeds and various wild plants, as I have proved by examin- 
ing the stomachs of different specimens. 



THE AMERICAN EAVEN. 355 



FAMILY CORVID.E. 

Primaries ten; the first short, generally about half as long as the second (or a 
little more), the outer four sinuated on the inner edge; the nasal fossae and nostrils 
usually more or less concealed by narrow stiffened bristles (or bristly feathers), with 
short appressed lateral branches extending to the very tip, all directed forwards ; 
tarsi scutellate anteriorly, the sides undivided (except sometimes below) and separa- 
ted from the anterior plates by a narrow, naked strip, sometimes filled up with small 
scales; basal joint of middle toe united about equally to the lateral, generally for 
about half the length ; bill generally notched. 



Sub-Family CORVIN^E. The Grows. 

Wings long and pointed ; longer than the tail, and, when closed, reaching nearly 
ft to its tip, extending far beyond the under tail coverts ; the third, fourth, and fifth 
quills forming the tip of the wing. 

CORVUS, LINNAEUS. 

Corvus, LINNAEUS, Syst. Nat. (1735). (Type Corous corax, L.) 
The nasal feathers lengthened, reaching to or beyond the middle of the bill ; 
nostrils large, circular, overhung behind by membrane, the edges rounded else- 
where ; rictus without bristles ; bill nearly as long as the tarsus, very stout ; much 
higher than broad at the base ; culmen much arched ; wings reaching to or nearly to 
the tip of the tail ; tarsi longer than the middle toe, with a series of small scales on 
the middle of each side separating the anterior scutellate portion from the posterior 
continuous plates; side of the head occasionally with nearly naked patches; tail 
graduated or rounded ; the outer four primaries sinuated internally. 

CORVUS CARNIVORUS. Bartram. 
The American Raven. 

Corvus carnivorus, Bartram. Travels in E. Florida (1793), 290. 

Corvus coroo:, Wilson. Am. Orn., IX. (1825) 136. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 202. 
Aud. Birds Am., IV. (1842) 78. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Fourth quill longest ; third and fifth about equal ; second between fifth and sixth ; 
first nearly equal to the eighth; entirely glossy black, with violet reflections. 

In this species, the feathers of the head above and body are compact and blended ; 
those of the back of the neck are very smooth and even, but do not show the out- 
lines of each separately as elsewhere; on the chin and throat, the feathers are 
elongated and lanceolate, each one more or less pendent or free, with the outlines 
distinct to near the base; the bill is very long (three inches), and considerably 
curved, the upper mandible extending considerably over the upper at the end. 



356 



ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



The feet appear very short and stout; the tarsi with but seven scutellae, rather 
longer than the middle toe and claw; the lateral claws about equal, and extending 
to a little beyond the base of the middle claw; the fourth quill is longest, the 
third about, equal the fifth, the second considerably longer than the sixth, the first 
about equal to the eighth primary. 

Length, about twenty-four or twenty-five inches ; extent, fifty to fifty-one ; wing, 
about seventeen ; tail, ten. Tail moderately graduated; the outer about one and 
sixty one-hundredths to one and ninety one-hundredths of an inch less than the 
middle. 

THIS bird is an extremely rare resident in New England. 
I have never heard of its breeding here ; but it occa- 
sionally rears its young on the island of Grand Menan, 

off the north-east coast of 
Maine. There, on the steep 
and almost inaccessible cliffs, 
its nest is built. This is com- 
posed of twigs, sticks, seaweed, 
and pieces of turf, and is lined 
with the finer seaweeds and 
algae found on the seacoast. 

A nest that I found in Ohio 
was built on a jutting rock in 
a large cave. On ascending 
to it, I found that it was built 
of coarse sticks and twigs, and 
was lined with leaves, strips 
of bark, and pieces of moss. 
This nest had been occupied so a settler told me for a 
number of years, by the same pair of birds, who made the 
cave and its surrounding forest their permanent home 
through the year. 

From its protected situation, it required but few altera- 
tions and additions each year ; and many of the sticks of 
which it was composed were quite rotten and decayed. 

It contained five young, about half-grown. As this was 
on the 18th of March, I judged the eggs must have been 
laid by the 20th of February. 

The eggs of this species are generally four or five in 




THE COMMON CROW. 357 

number: they almost exactly resemble those of the Com- 
mon Crow; but are considerably larger, averaging about 
two inches in length by 1.55 inch in breadth. 

A specimen in my collection, of undoubted authenticity, 
collected on Grand Menan, is much smaller than the usual 
size, being but 1.70 by 1.24 inch in dimensions. 

The habits of this bird have been described so many 
times, and are so familiar to all, that I will not give them 
an extended notice here. 

CORVUS AMERICANUS. Audutxm. 
The Common Crow. 

Corvus corone, Wilson. Am. Orn., IV. (1811) 79. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 209. 
Cor'cus Americanus, Audubon. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 317; V. 477. Nutt. Man., 
I. (2d ed., 1840) 221. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Fourth quill longest, second shorter than sixth, first shorter than ninth; glossy 
black with violet reflections, even on the belly ; tarsus longer than the middle toe 
and claw. 

The bill is considerably narrower than high or much compressed; it is gently 
curved from the very base, rather more rapidly towards the tip; the incumbent 
feathers of the nostril reach half the distance from the base of the bill to the end of 
the lower jaw, and not quite half-way to that of the upper. 

The tarsus has eight scutellae anteriorly, and is rather longer than the middle toe 
and claw ; the lateral toes are very nearly equal ; the inner claw the larger, and 
reaching to the base of the middle claw. 

The webs of the throat feathers are a little loose, but lie quite smoothly, without 
the pointed lanceolate character seen in the ravens. 

Length, nineteen to twenty inches ; wing, thirteen to thirteen and fifty one-hun- 
dredths; tail, about eight inches. 

This well-known bird is abundant through New England 
in the summer, and in mild winters is a resident through 
the year. The species as Mr. Allen justly remarks, in 
his Catalogue of the Birds of Springfield, Mass. " seems 
to have diminished very materially in numbers in the last 
six or eight years ; hundreds, and probably thousands, hav- 
ing been killed in the State by the use of strychnine almost 
every year." 

About the first week in May, the birds separate into pairs, 
and soon commence building. The nest is usually built in a 



358 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

fork of a tall pine, sometimes in a thick birch or hemlock : 
it is constructed of, first, a layer of coarse twigs and sticks, 
then a layer of the bark of the cedar, moss, and sometimes 
bunches of grass ; it is warmly lined with the bark of the 
cedar, and sometimes a few leaves. The eggs are usually 
four in number : their color is of different shades of green, 
which is covered with blotches and spots of different browns, 
and dusky. Dimensions vary from 1.65 by 1.20 to 1.50 by 
1.08 inch. But one brood is reared in the season. 

Perhaps no branch of American rural economy has been 
so little investigated as the food of our native birds. In 
Europe, within a few years, the attention of scientific men 
has been turned to the subject: but the information they 
have been able to obtain, although valuable, cannot, of 
course, be applied, otherwise than by a series of analogies, 
to this country ; and the economical value of most of our 
species is as yet almost entirely unknown to us. This igno- 
rance is owing, principally, to the difficulty attending such 
investigations, the killing of great numbers of birds in 
all the seasons when they are found with us, which is abso- 
lutely necessary, but which is extremely distasteful to most 
persons ; and it has been aggravated somewhat by the con- 
tradictory statements of various persons in different locali- 
ties regarding the food of some species that they have had 
the means of observing. 

Of these birds, none have given rise to more controversy 
than the Corvidce ; and I propose to discuss briefly here this 
interesting topic, and bring a few facts and arguments, 
founded on reason or actual observation, to show their 
actual economical value. 

Until very recently, I have been the earnest advocate of 
these birds, and have believed that the benefits they render 
much more than balance the injuries they inflict; but I 
must say, that, after careful consideration, my faith in their 
utility is sadly shaken. 

At the outset I will say, that I have kept specimens in 




COMMON CROW, Corvus Americanus. Audubon. 



THE COMMON CROW. 359 

captivity ; and have, by actual observation, proved that at 
least eight ounces of such food as frogs, fish, &c., are eaten 
daily by our Common Crow. Of course, like other birds, it 
can live on a very limited allowance ; but I think that the 
above is a reasonable amount : however, to be absolutely 
within bounds, we will fix the food of the Crow to be equal 
to five ounces of animal matter per diem. Beginning, then, 
with the new year, we will follow the life of this bird through 
all the seasons, and then compare the results arrived at 
together, good and bad. 

During the months of January, February, and March, 
when the face of the country is covered with snow, the 
insects being dormant, and the small birds away to more 
southern districts, most of the Crows migrate from New 
England: and the few that remain depend upon a scanty 
subsistence of seeds of wild plants and weeds, acorns, apples 
that have been left on the trees in the orchard, and frozen ; 
and they occasionally capture a field-mouse that strays from 
its nest in the stubble-field or swamp. The life of the Crow 
during these months is one continued starvation ; and the 
expression, " poor as a crow," may be applied to it, as well 
describing its condition. It succeeds in finding a few 
cocoons of Lepidopterous insects ; meets occasionally with a 
caterpillar or beetle ; and, on the whole, its labors during 
these months may be called beneficial ; although the good 
resulting from them is of so little amount that we might 
safely regard them as neutral. But, to be beyond the chance 
of doing it an injustice, we will assume, that, during the 
three months above mentioned, the Crow does as much good 
as during the whole month of April. 

Let us adopt, in this discussion, a system of numerals to 
signify the relative values of this bird through the year ; 
taking the unit one to represent the labors of each day. The 
Crow is therefore valuable, during January, February, and 
March, thirty units, and in April is unquestionably thirty 
units more ; for its food then consists almost entirely of 



360 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

noxious insects in their different forms. It is perfectly safe 
to say, that it would destroy a thousand insects in making 
up the amount of food that I mentioned above ; and it is not 
improbable, that, during this month, it actually eats that 
number daily. 

During the first half of May, its labors are undoubtedly 
beneficial ; for its food still consists almost entirely of in- 
sects : but after the middle of that month, when the small 
birds have begun to lay their eggs and hatch their young, 
the Crow divides its diet pretty equally between them and the 
insects. Now, it is not apparent, at the first glance, how 
immensely injurious it becomes the moment it begins to 
destroy the eggs and young of our small birds ; but we may 
demonstrate it to an approximation. We will allow, that, 
during the latter part of May, half of its food consists of 
injurious insects and other vermin : it is therefore beneficial 
in the whole month about twenty-three units. But it is 
perfectly reasonable to say, that it destroys at least the eggs 
or young of one pair of Sparrows, four in number ; one pair 
of Warblers, four in number ; and one pair of Thrushes or 
Starlings, four in number : for I have known one pair of 
Canada Jays to kill and devour the half-grown young of four 
families of Snowbirds (Junco liyemalis), sixteen birds in all, 
in one forenoon ; and have seen a pair of crows, in two 
visits to an orchard, within a half-hour's .time, destroy the 
young birds in two robins' nests. 

Now, let us see what the injury amounts to that it does in 
destroying the four eggs or young of the Sparrows, Warblers, 
and Thrushes. It is a well-known fact, that the young of 
all our small birds, whether insectivorous or graminivorous 
in the adult stage, are fed entirely on insects. Bradley 
says that a pair of Sparrows will destroy 3,360 caterpillars 
for a week's family supplies. For four weeks, at the lowest 
estimate, the young of our Sparrows are fed on this diet ; 
and the family that the crow destroys would, in that time, 
eat at least 13,440 noxious insects ; and, as they feed more 



THE COMMON CROW. 361 

or less upon the same diet during their stay with us, killing 
certainly as many as fifty insects each daily, the family 
would devour two hundred per diem, or, before they leave 
us in September, as many as twenty thousand. The War- 
blers are entirely insectivorous, and we can certainly allow 
them as great destructive capacity as the Sparrows. The 
four that the crow destroys would have devoured, before 
they leave us in autumn, at least thirty thousand cater- 
pillars and other insects. A pair of thrushes has been 
actually seen to carry over a hundred insects, principally 
caterpillars, to their young in an hour's time : if we sup- 
pose that the family mentioned above be fed for only six 
hours in the day, they would eat six hundred per diem, at 
least while they remain in the nest, which being three weeks, 
the amount would be 12,600 ; and before they leave us in 
the fall, allowing only fifty each per day, a very small 
number, they would, in the aggregate, kill twenty thou- 
sand more. 

Now, we find that the Crow in one day destroys birds 
that would together eat 96,040 insects before they would 
leave us for their winter homes, or about ninety-six times as 
many as it would eat in a day if its food consisted entirely 
of them. It is therefore injurious, during the last half of 
May, keeping our original calculation in view, 598 
units. 

During the whole month of June and the first half of 
July, while its family are in the nest, it is at least doubly 
destructive ; for its young are possessed of voracious appe- 
tites, requiring an abundance of food to supply them. Al- 
lowing, then, that of its and their diet, half consists of insects 
during this period, it is beneficial about forty-six units ; but, 
as at least one-half of the other half consists of young birds 
and eggs, it is injurious, during the same period, at least 96 
units daily, or 4,320 units for June and the first half of 
July. The remaining quarter of its and their food, during 
this time, consists of berries and various small seeds and 



362 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

reptiles ; and this diet may be considered as of neutral im- 
portance, economically speaking. 

During the last half of July, and through August and 
the first half of September, its diet consists of about half 
insects and mice ; and the balance, of berries and small 
fruits. It is therefore, during this time, beneficial about 
thirty units, and is not injurious, .otherwise than by eating 
garden fruits or grains, items that I do not consider in 
the present discussion. From the middle of September 
until November, its food loses much of its fruit character, 
because of the failure of supply, and it feeds at least two- 
thirds on insects and other noxious animals : it is therefore 
beneficial thirty units, and is not injurious ; and, during 
November and December, it is beneficial to about the same 
extent that it is in February and March, or about forty 
units. 

We have now but to condense the foregoing results, and 
we have, in the aggregate, the sum total of the Crow's 
merits and demerits. 

We find, that, during the whole year, it is beneficial to the 
amount of 229 units, and that it is injurious to the extent 
of 4,918 units. If, for the sake of the greatest indulgence, 
we take but one-fourth of this enormous disproportion as 
the actual fact, we still have an exhibit that proves at once 
that these birds are not only worthless, but are ruinously 
destructive. 

. In presenting this extended sketch, I will say that I am 
not moved in the least by prejudice or ill feeling for a much- 
disliked bird, but that I state the facts as they are, and 
simply to throw a little light on a subject that has given 
rise to much discussion and controversy. In conclusion, 
I will say that the Jays are equally injurious with the Crows, 
and that they are not deserving of a moment's indulgence 
or protection at the hands of the ruralist. 




FISH Cuow, Corvus ossifragus. Wilson. 



THE FISH CROW. 363 

CORVUS OSSIFRAGUS. Wilson. 
The Fish Crow. 

Corvus ossifragus, Wilson. Am. Orn., V. (1812) 27. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 216. 
Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 268; V. 479. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Fourth quill longest ; second rather longer than seventh ; first shorter than the 
ninth; glossy-black, with green and violet reflections; the gloss of the belly 
greenish. 

In this species the bill is shaped much as in the Common Crow, the upper outline 
perhaps a little more convex ; the bristly feathers at the base of the bill reach 
nearly half-way to the tip ; I find no bare space at the base of the lower mandible, 
although the feathers are not quite so thick there as in the Common Crow; the 
tarsus has eight transverse scutellae, and is decidedly shorter than the middle toe 
with its claw ; the lateral claws do not reach within one-tenth of an inch of the base 
of the middle claw. 

The wings are long and acute ; the fourth is longest ; next the third, fifth, second, 
and sixth ; the first is about as long as the secondaries. 

Length, about fifteen and fifty one-hundredths inches ; wing, ten and fifty one- 
hundredths inches; tail less than seven inches; tarsus shorter than the middle 
toe and claw. 

Hab. South Atlantic (and Gulf?) coast. 

This bird is so extremely rare in New England, that it 
can be regarded only as an occasional straggler. I under- 
stand that it has been taken on Long Island, and, on one 
or two occasions, in Connecticut, in company with the Com- 
mon Crow. 

Audubon says of the habits of this species, 

" While on the St. John's River in Florida, during the month of 
February, I saw flocks of Fish Crows, consisting of several hun- 
dred individuals, sailing high in the air, somewhat in the manner 
of the Raven. These aerial excursions would last for hours, 
during the calm of a fine morning, after which the whole would 
descend toward the water to pursue their more usual avocations in 
all the sociability of their nature. When their fishing, which lasted 
about half an hour, was over, they would alight in flocks on the 
live oaks and other trees near the shore, and there keep up their 
gabble, pluming themselves for hours. 

" The nest of this species is smaller than that of the Common 
Crow, and is composed of sticks, moss, and grasses, neatly finished 



364 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

or lined with fibrous roots. The eggs are from four to six, and 
resemble those of the American Crow, but are smaller." 

Two eggs in my collection, from Florida, are of the 
above description, and are almost exactly like the others, 
measuring a little smaller : their dimensions being 1.60 by 
1.10 inch and 1.52 by 1.04 inch. 



Sub-Family GARRDLIN^E. The Jays. 

Wings short, rounded ; not longer or much shorter than the tail, which is grad- 
uated, sometimes excessively so ; wings reaching not much beyond the lower tail 
coverts ; bristly feathers at base of bill, variable ; bill nearly as long as the head, or 
shorter; tarsi longer than the bill or than the middle toe; outer lateral claws rather 
shorter than the inner. 

CYANURA, SWAINSON. 

Cyanurus, SWAINSON, F. Bor. Am., II. (1831) 495, App. (Type Corvus cristatus, 
Linn.) 

Head crested; wings and tail blue, with transverse black bars; head and back 
of the same color ; bill rather slender, somewhat broader than high at the base ; cul- 
men about equal to the head ; nostrils large, nearly circular, concealed by bristles ; 
tail about as long as the wings, lengthened, graduated ; hind claw large, longer than 
its digit. 

The culmen is straight to near the tip, where it is gently decurved; the gonys is 
convex at the base, then straight and ascending ; the bill has a very slight notch at 
the tip; the nostrils are large, nearly cirQular, or slightly elliptical; the commissure 
is straight at the base, then bending down slightly near the tip ; the legs present no 
special peculiarities; the crest on the head consists of a number of elongated, narrow, 
lanceolate occipital feathers. 

CYANURUS CRISTATUS. - Swainson. 
The Blue Jay. 

Corvus cristatus, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (10th ed., 1758) 106. Wils. Am. Orn., 
I. (1808) 2. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 11; V. (1839) 475. 

Cyanurus cristatus, Swainson. F. Bor. Am., II. (1831) App. 495. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Crest about one-third longer than the bill; tail much graduated; general color 
above, light purplish-blue; wings and tail feathers ultramarine-blue; the secondaries 
and tertials, the greater wing coverts, and the exposed surface of the tail, sharply 



THE BLUE JAY. 365 

banded with black, and broadly tipped with white, except on the central tail feathers ; 
beneath white; tinged with purplish-blue on the throat, and with bluish-brown 
on the sides ; a black crescent on the forepart of the breast, the horns passing for- 
ward and connecting with a half-collar on the back of the neck ; a narrow frontal 
line and loral region black ; feathers on the base of the bill blue, like the crown. 
Female rather duller in color, and a little smaller. 

Length, twelve and twenty-five one-hundredths inches ; wing, five and sixty-five 
one-hundredths inches ; tail, five and seventy-five one-hundredths inches. 

This beautiful and well-known bird is abundantly dis- 
tributed throughout New England. It is less common in 
the northern than in the southern districts, but is often seen 
there, not in company with the Canada Jay, however. 

Its food is more varied than that of almost any other 
bird that we have. In winter, the berries of the cedar, bar- 
berry or black-thorn, with the few eggs or cocoons of in- 
sects that it is able to find, constitute its chief sustenance. 
In early spring, the opening buds of shrubs, caterpillars, 
and other insects, afford it a meagre diet. Later in the 
spring, and through the greater part of summer, the eggs 
and young of the smaller birds constitute its chief food, 
varied by a few insects and early berries. Later in the 
summer, and in early autumn, berries, small fruits, grains, 
and a few insects, afford it a bountiful provender ; and later 
in the autumn, when the frosts have burst open the burrs 
of chestnuts and beechnuts, and exposed the brown, ripe 
fruit to view, these form a palatable and acceptable food : 
and a large share of these delicious nuts fall to the portion 
of these busy and garrulous birds. 

The notes of the Blue Jay consist of a shrill cry, like 
jay-jay-jay repeated often, and in a high key; a shrill 
whistle like the syllables -wheeo-wheeo-wheeo ; a hoarse 
rattle, something like a Kingfisher's well-known alarum ; 
and an exceedingly sweet bell-like note, that possesses a 
mournful tone, like that of a far-off hamlet bell tolling 
a funeral dirge. 

I have often heard this tone in the autumn, when the 
leaves were falling from the trees, and all nature wore its 



366 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

funeral livery ; and it seemed to me, when the clear notes of 
the bird were echoed from hill-side to hill-side in the forest, 
that it was wandering like a forest elf through the trees, 
mourning the decay of all the charms that had made them 
so beautiful through the spring and summer. 

About the first or second week in May, the. Blue Jay com- 
mences building. The nest is usually placed in a fork of a 
low pine or cedar, in a retired locality : it is loosely con- 
structed of twigs and coarse roots, and lined with the same 
materials, but of a finer quality, and sometimes a few pieces 
of moss or a few leaves. The eggs are four or five in 
number. Their color is generally light-green, with spots of 
light-brown ; sometimes a dirty brownish-gray, spotted with 
different shades of brown and black. The dimensions vary 
from 1.20 by .85 to 1 by .80 inch. But one brood is reared 
in the season. 

PERISOREUS, BONAPARTE. 

Perisoreus, BONAPARTE, Saggio di una dist. met. (1831). (Type Corvus Cana- 
densist) 

Feathers lax and full, especially on the back, and of very dull colors, without 
any blue; head without distinct crest; bill very short, broader than high; culmen 
scarcely half the length of the head, straight to near the tip, then slightly curved; 
gonys more curved than culmen ; bill notched at tip ; nostrils round, covered by 
bristly feathers; tail about to the wings, graduated; tarsi rather short, but little 
longer than the middle toe. 

This genus includes the species of dullest colors among all of our Jays. It has, 
too, the shortest bill, and with this feature bears a very strong resemblance, in many 
respects, to some of the Titmice. 

PERISOREUS CANADENSIS. Bonaparte. 
The Canada Jay. 

Corvus Canadensis, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 158. Wils. Am. Orn., III. 
(1811) 33. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 53; V. (1839) 208. 

Perisoreus Canadensis, Bonaparte. List (1838). lb., Coiisp. (1850) 375. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Tail graduated; lateral feathers about one inch shortest; wings a little shorter 
than the tail; head and neck, and forepart of the breast, white; a plumbeous brown 
nuchal patch, becoming darker behind, from the middle of the crown to the back, 
from which it is separated by an interrupted whitish color; rest of upper parts ashy- 



THE CANADA JAY. 367 

plumbeous ; the outer primaries margined : the secondaries, tertials, and tail feathers 
obscurely tipped with white ; beneath smoky-gray ; crissum whitish ; bill and feet 
black. 

The young of this species are everywhere of a dull sooty-brown, lighter on the 
middle of the belly, and more plumbeous on the wings and tail; with increasing 
age, the region about the base of the bill whitens, and this color gradually extends 
backwards until the whole head, excepting the occiput and nape, is white; the 
under parts are sometimes whiter than in the typical specimens. 

Length, ten and seventy one-hundredths inches ; wing, five and seventy-five one- 
huudredths inches; tail, six inches; tarsus, one and forty one-hundredths inches. 

This species is confined to the northern districts in New 
England, where it is resident through the year. I have 
not been so fortunate as to find the nest, and will have to 
borrow Audubon's description of that and the eggs: 

" The Canada Jay breeds in Maine, in New Brunswick, Nova 
Scotia, Newfoundland, and Labrador. It begins as early as Feb- 
ruary or March to form its nest, which is placed in the thickest 
part of a fir-tree, near the trunk, and at a height of from five to 
ten feet. The exterior is composed of dry twigs, with moss and 
grass ; and the interior, which is flat, is formed of fibrous roots. 
The eggs, which are from four to six, are of a light-gray color, 
faintly marked with brown." 

This bird is not generally so well known as the preceding. 
I have had numerous opportunities for observing its habits, 
and I can positively affirm that it is equally rapacious and 
destructive with the Blue Jay, which it resembles in motions 
and cry. 

I once knew of a single pair of these birds destroying the 
young in four nests of the Common Snowbird (J. hy emails) 
in a single day. I found these nests in an old abandoned 
lumber-road on the morning of June 20 : in the afternoon, 
when I returned through the same path, every nest was 
depopulated ; and a pair of these Jays were lurking in the 
trees, shouting defiance at us, while surrounded by the 
afflicted Snowbirds, that were uttering their cries of com- 
plaint and sorrow. I emptied both barrels of my gun in 
the direction of the Jays, and I am inclined to think that 



368 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGT. 

they have killed no young birds since. The familiarity with 
which this species fraternizes with man in the woods is 
interesting and amusing. I was once " snowed in," as the 
expression is, in a large tract of forest, and, with my com- 
panions, was obliged to wait until the storm had ceased 
before we could resume our march. We remained in camp 
two days. A pair of these birds, probably with young in 
the neighborhood, visited our camp, and even penetrated 
into our tent for crumbs and pieces of bread. They always 
flew off with their mouths full, and soon returned for more : 
their visits soon got to be any thing but a joke, particularly 
when they flew off with the last piece of our soap. We 
couldn't kill them, however; for any thing with life was 
company, and we felt that we had none of that to spare. 



NOTES. 

I present a continuation of Mr. Couper's valuable notes, 
taken at Quebec, Lower Canada, on the species described in 
the present Order. 

TROCHILUS COLUBEIS. Common in this neighborhood and in the 
mountain wilds and savannas north of the city. I have had the pleasure 
of finding its nest on more than one. occasion. It generally arrives here 
about the middle of May. 

CENTURA PELASGIA. Very abundant. It builds its nest in unused 
chimneys in the city. I have remarked that no more than a single pair will 
occupy a flue; and, although there are many instances here of chimneys 
having unused flues, it is curious that they are not occupied while one is in 
possession of the Swallow. I have noticed this species flying over the woods 
many miles north of Quebec ; and I think that it breeds within large forest- 
trees. 

ANTROSTOMUS VOCIFERUS. This bird is occasionally heard in the 
mountains north of Quebec. It is, however, very rare in this latitude, 
which may be considered its northern limit. 

CHORDEILES POPETUE. Very common. It deposits its eggs in a small 
cavity in the ground, in the midst of a woodland clearing, or wherever there 
is a young shrubbery. Its principal food in spring consists of ants. I can- 
not say how far north it goes. 



NOTES. 369 

CERYLE ALCYON. The Kingfisher occurs about all our northern lakes 
and rivers, and breeds plentifully. It probably extends three degrees north 
of Quebec. 

TYRANNUS CAROLINENSIS. Common. It builds its nest invariably 
near farm-houses. 

CONTOPUS VIRENS. I detected this species here this spring for the first 
time. I do not think it breeds commonly in high latitudes. 

EMPIDONAX TRAILLII. This species occurs during summer in the 
woodlands near Quebec. It rarely builds its nest high from the ground. It 
is extremely cunning, and invariably selects the most hidden portion of a 
clump of bushes. 

TURDUS PALLASII. This thrush breeds in the neighborhood of Quebec ; 
but it is not common. It builds its nest much higher than Wilson's Thrush ; 
that is to say, the latter is generally found concealed at the lower portion 
of a bush, while the former is often found on a heavily branched pine-tree. 
The eggs of T. pallasii are blue and spotted. * 

TURDUS FUSCESCENS. This is one of our most common thrushes. It 
breeds plentifully in this neighborhood. Its nest is generally placed near the 
ground, at the lower portions of bushes growing near a swamp or river. The 
eggs are generally four or five, of a clear greenish-blue color. 

SIALIA SIALIS. The Redbreasted Bluebird is only seen here early in 
spring, while on its passage to the "West. It does not breed in Lower 
Canada. 

REGULUS CALENDULA. This species, in company with R. satrapa, visit 
this locality, from the North, in the autumn. 

ANTHUS LUDOVICIANUS. Common in the autumn. They frequent 
fields and barnyards, and are generally in flocks. I think they breed in 
Labrador. 

MNIOTILTA VARIA. This species is not common in our Northern woods. 
It, however, breeds in the neighborhood of Quebec. 

GEOTHLYPIS TRICHAS. Very common. Breeds. 
SEIURUS AUROCAPILLUS. Common. Breeds. 

DENDROICA VIRENS. Only noticed in spring, on its way North. It was 
rather common in the spring of 1866. 

DENDROICA CANADENSIS. Common. Breeds. 

DENDROICA CORONATA. Very common in the autumn. I think they 
breed far north. 

DENDROICA BLACKBURNIJE. This beautiful Warbler was very abun- 
dant here last spring. None of the young returned this way. There appears 

1 Mr. Couper undoubtedly refers to T. Swainsonii. E. A. S. 
24 



370 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

to be some mystery connected with the breeding localities of many of our 
Warblers. Some of them are found breeding over the whole of temperate 
America, while others, who evidently eat the same kinds of food, pass to 
the inaccessible parts of the northern forests, where the foot of man never 
trod. 

DENDROICA CASTANEA. This is another of the mysterious Warblers 
that shows itself in spring, and afterwards slowly departs to its northern 
hermitage. 

DENDROICA PINUS. Spring. Not common. Follows its kindred, North. 
DENDROICA PENNSYLVANICA. Not common. Breeds. 

DENDROICA CJERULEA. This species was very common in this neigh- 
borhood in the spring of 1866. I have never seen its nest or eggs. 

DENDROICA STRIATA. Not common. Breeds. 
DENDROICA JESTIVA. Common. Breeds. 
DENDROICA MACULOSA. Common. Breeds. 
MYIODIOCTES CANADENSIS. Common. Breeds. 
SETOPHAGA RUTICILLA. Common. Breeds. 

PYRANGA RUBRA. Rarely seen in the woods north of Quebec. They 
breed in the maple woods ; and this latitude may be considered its northern 
limit of migration. 

HIRUNDO HORREORUM. Uncommon. It builds its nest on the beams 
of out-houses and barns in this neighborhood. 

H. LUNIFRONS. Very common. It builds mud or clay nests under the 
thatched barns and country-houses near Quebec. They are protected by 
farmers, who will not allow them to be disturbed during their stay here. 
They return annually to the old nests, which they repair. 

H. BICOLOR. Common. It builds its nest in any hole it may find in 
the houses in the city. In the woodland districts, it generally selects an 
abandoned Woodpecker's nest in trees. * ' 

COTYLE RIPARIA. Common. Breeds in every sand-bank in the country. 

PROGNE PURPUREA. The breeding-place of this Swallow is confined to 
a building called the Jesuit Barracks, of this city, where they raise their 
young every season. I have repeatedly tried to induce them to occupy 
boxes, but the White-bellied Swallow always took possession first. In this 
locality, the Purple Martin loves its own community, and will not be induced 
to occupy the most tempting abode unless made sufficiently large to accom- 
moda.te several pairs. 

AMPELIS GARRULUS. During severe winters, this species arrives here 
from the north to feed on the berries of the mountain-ash, which grows 



NOTES. 371 

abundantly in the neighborhood of the city. They go in flocks. They 
must breed late in the season, as I had the young with the downy feathers 
attached to their heads during the depth of winter. 

AMPELIS CEDRORUM. Common. Breeds. 

COLLTRIO BOREALIS. Arrives early in Spring. I think they go to 
high latitudes to breed. The specimens which I procure are either in sprino- 
or fall plumage. 

VIREO OLIVACEUS. Not common. Breeds. 

MIMUS CAROLINENSIS. Not common. Breeds. 

TROGLODYTES HIEMALIS. Common. Breeds. 

CERTHIA AMERICANA, Common. Breeds. 

SITTA CANADENSIS. Common in summer and winter. Breeds. 

PARUS ATRICAPILLUS. Common. Breeds. 

P. HUDSONICUS. Arrives about the middle of September from the 
North, and remains until the snow falls. It has not been found breeding in 
this locality. They go in flocks, like the former species. 

EREMOPHILA CORNUTA. This Lark arrives here in the month of Sep- 
tember. It gathers in flocks, which remain until the snow falls. It breeds 
in Labrador. 

PINICOLA CANADENSIS. Arrives from the North, sometimes in com- 
pany with the Bohemian Wax wing, and feeds on the same berries. They 
frequently remain during winter. 

CARPODACUS PURPUREUS. Common. Breeds. 
CHRYSOMITRIS TRISTIS. Common. Breeds. 
C. PINUS. Sometimes common in winter. 

CURVIROSTRA AMERICANA. Sometimes very abundant in winter. I 
am told it breeds in Nova Scotia. 

C. LEUCOPTERA. Very numerous during winter. Breeds in Labrador. 

.EGIOTHUS LIN ARIA. Common in the fall. Breeds in Labrador and 
Northern Newfoundland. 

PLECTROPHANES NIVALIS. Common in winter. Breeds in Labrador. 
POOCJETES GRAMINEUS. Common. Breeds. 
ZONOTRICHIA LEUCOPHRYS. Common. Breeds. 
Z. ALBICOLLIS. Common. Breeds. 
JUNCO HTEMALIS. Common. Breeds. 

SPIZELLA MONTICOLA. This species goes far north to breed, probably 
Labrador. It returns in the fall. 



372 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

S. SOCIALIS. Common. Breeds. 
MELOSPIZA MELODIA. Common. Breeds. 

M. PALUSTRIS. Not common here; but it breeds in some of the south- 
ern towns of Lower Canada. 

PASSERELLA ILIACA. Not common. Breeds. I think that this species 
is more abundant in Labrador during summer. 

GUIRACA LUDOVICIANA. Not common. Breeds. Quebec may be con- 
sidered its northern limit. 

CYANOSPIZA CYANEA. Not common. Breeds. 

DOLICHONYX ORYZIVORUS. Common. Breeds. This is the most 
northern limit of this species. 

AGELAIUS PHCENICEUS. This species is a very rare visitor in this 
neighborhood, and is seen only in the spring, when on its passage to the 
swamps in the West. It breeds abundantly at Toronto, Upper Canada. 

SCOLECOPHAGUS FERRUGINEUS. Very common in the fall, at which 
season they visit this locality on their passage south. Great numbers are 
shot, and sold like game in our markets. This species has been noticed here 
as late as the 24th of May, when it disappears. It has not been found breed- 
ing within the habitable portions of this province. 

QUISCALUS VERSIC.OLOR. Rare in this district. A few pairs have 
been discovered breeding at Three Rivers, between this city and Montreal. 

CORVUS AMERICANUS. Common. Breeds in large numbers. A few 
generally remain here during winter. They feed on the berries of the 
mountain ash. The old nests are invariably occupied, and the birds lay 
their eggs very early. I have seen the young ones fully fledged before the 
24th of May. 

CORVUS CARNIVORUS. Occasionally seen in this district. It breeds on 
the high, rocky portions of islands in the lower St. Lawrence. 

CYANURA CRISTATA. Abundant in the mountains north of this city, 
where they breed. 

PERISOREUS CANADENSIS. Sometimes very common in the fall. I 
have not noticed this bird in the vicinity of Quebec during summer ; but, 
while on a collecting trip down the St. Lawrence, in the month of July, I 
saw numbers of the old and young in the woods, at a place called Mille 
Vaches. They were following each other in one direction, and appeared to 
me to have habits similar to those of the Black-cap Titmouse. From this 
fact of its occurrence on the north shore of the St. Lawrence at the above 
season, it is evident that they breed in our wild, unfrequented forests, such 
as may be found north and east of the river Saguenay. I have offered a 
high price for the nests and eggs of the Canada Jay; but, as yet, nothing of 
the kind has appeared. 




WILD PIGKON, Kctopisies miyratoria. 



THE WILD PIGEON. 373 



SUB-ORDER COLUMBA. 



The basal portion of the bill covered by a soft skin, in which are situated the 
nostrils, overhung by an incumbent fleshy valve, the apical portion hard and con- 
vex ; the hind toe on the same level with the rest ; the anterior toe without mem- 
brane at the base; tarsi more or less naked; covered laterally and behind with 
hexagonal scales. 

FAMILY COLUMBINE. THE DOVES. 

Bill horny at the tip; tail feathers twelve, only occasionally fourteen; head 
smooth. . 

Sub-Family COLUMBINE. 

Tarsi stout, short, with transverse scutellae anteriorly; feathered for the basal 
third above, but not at all behind ; toes lengthened, the lateral decidedly longer than 
the tarsus; wings lengthened and pointed; size large; tail feathers twelve. 

This section of doves embraces the largest North-American species, and among 
them the more arboreal ones. 



ECTOPISTES, SWAINSON. 

Ectopistes, SWAINSON, Zool. Jour., III. (1827) 362. (Type Columba migratoria, L.) 

Head very small ; bill short, black ; culmen one-third the rest of the head ; tarsi 

very short, half covered anteriorly by feathers ; inner lateral claw much larger than 

outer, reaching to the base of the middle one; tail very long and excessively 

cuneate; about as long as the wings; first primary longest. 

This genus is readily distinguished from the other Columbines by the excessively 
lengthened and acute middle feathers. It formerly included the Columba Caroli- 
nensis ; but this, with more propriety, has been erected into a different genus, and 
will be found in the next section. 



ECTOPISTES MIGRATORIA. Swainson. 
The Wild Pigeon; Passenger Pigeon. 

Columba migratoria, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 285. Wils. Am. Orn., I. 
(1808) 102. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1831) 319; V. 561. 

Ectopistes migratoria, Swainson. Zool. Jour., III. (1827) 355. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Tail with twelve feathers; upper parts generally, including sides of body, head, 
and neck, and the chin, blue ; beneath, purple brownish-red, fading behind with a 



374 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

violet tint; anal region and under tail coverts, bluish-white; scapulars, inner tertials, 
and middle of back, with an olive-brown tinge ; the wing coverts, scapulars, and inner 
tertials, with large oval spots of blue-black on the outer webs, mostly concealed, except 
on the latter; primaries blackish, with a border of pale-bluish tinged internally with 
red ; middle tail feathers brown ; the rest pale-blue on the outer web, white inter- 
nally; each with a patch of reddish-brown at the base of the inner web, followed by 
another of black; sides arid back of neck richly glossed with metallic golden-violet; 
tibia bluish-violet ; bill black ; feet yellow. 

The female is smaller; much duller in color; more olivaceous above ; beneath, 
pale-blue instead of red, except a tinge on the neck; the jugulum tinged with 
olive; the throat whitish. 

The blue of the side of the head extends to the throat and chin ; the upper part 
of the back and lesser coverts are of a darker blue than the head and rump; the 
inner primaries are more broadly margined with light-blue, which tapers off to 
the end; the axillars and under surface of the wing are light-blue; the longest 
scapulars have the black on both webs ; there is no blue on the outer web of the first 
tail feather, which is white, and the inferior surface of the tail generally is white. 

In some specimens the entire head all round is blue. 

The immature male varies- in having most of the feathers of the head and body 
margined with whitish. 

Length of male, seventeen inches ; wing, eight and fifty one-hundredths inches ; 
tail, eight and forty one-hundredths inches. 

FT1HIS bird has become of late years rather scarce in 
JL New England ; so much so, that, in localities where it 
was formerly abundant, it is now seen only occasionally in 
small flocks of a dozen or fifteen. It is a resident of these 
States through a greater^ part of the year ; only absenting 
itself in the most severe portion of winter, when its food is 
usually covered with snow. It depends principally upon 
acorns and beechnuts for subsistence, and is most abundant 
in localities where these nuts are found. It also frequents 
grain-fields, where it gleans among the stubble and weeds ; 
and, when berries are in season, it feeds plentifully upon 
them, and it is at that time when the greater number are 
seen in New England. 

Early in May, the birds, although associating still in com- 
munities, as in sections where they are more abundant, 
separate into pairs, and build their nest. This is placed in 
a forked branch of a tree, usually in a swamp or thick 
wood. It is constructed of twigs and leaves, which are 
loosely arranged into a frail structure hardly strong enough 



THE CAROLINA DOVE. 375 

to support the parent bird : it is but very little hollowed, 
and has no lining of softer material. The female deposits 
in this one or two eggs, on which both birds incubate. 
These eggs are pure-white in color, nearly oval in form, and 
have the slightest roseate tint before their contents are 
removed: they average in dimensions about 1.54 by 1.10 
inch. Many writers affirm that but one egg is laid at 
a time. I think that in the greater number of nests two 
are deposited, as I have inquired of many hunters and 
woodsmen, and they all agree on that number. 



Sub-Family ZENAIDIN.E. 

Tarsi stout, lengthened ; always longer than the lateral toes, and entirely with- 
out feathers; the tibial joint usually denuded; tarsus sometimes with hexagonal 
scales anteriorly ; tail feathers sometimes fourteen. 



ZENAIDURA, BONAPARTE. 

Zenaidura, BONAPARTE, Consp. Avium, II. (1854) 84. (Type Columba Caroli- 
nensis, L.) Probably named previously in Comptes Rendus. 

Bill weak, black; culmen from frontal feathers, about one-third the head above; 
tarsus not quite as long as middle toe and claw, but considerably longer than the 
lateral ones ; covered anteriorly by a single series of scutellae ; inner lateral claw 
considerably longer than outer, and reaching to the base of middle; wings pointed, 
second quill longest, first and third nearly equal ; tail very long, equal to the wings ; 
excessively graduated and cuneate, of fourteen feathers. 

The fourteen tail feathers render this genus very conspicuous among the North- 
American doves. It was formerly placed with the Passenger Pigeon in Ectopistes, 
but has nothing in common with it but the lengthened tail, as it belongs to a differ- 
ent sub-family. 

ZENAIDUEA CABOLINENSIS. Bonaparte. 
The Carolina Dove ; Turtle Dove. 

Columba Carolinensis, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766), 286, No. 37. Wils. Am. 
Orn., V. (1812) 91. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1831) 91; V. (1839) 555. Nutt. Man., I. 
(1832) 626. 

Zenaidura Carolinensis, Bonaparte. Consp. Av., II. (1854) 84. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Tail feathers fourteen; above bluish, although this is overlaid with light brown- 
ish-olive, leaving the blue pure only on the top of the head, the exterior of the 



376 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

wings, ana upper surface of the tail, which is even slightly tinged with this color; 
the entire head, except the vertex, the sides of the neck, and the under parts general- 
ly, light brownish-red, strongly tinged with purple on the breast, becoming lighter 
behind, and passing into brownish-yellow on the anal region, tibia, and under tail 
coverts; sides of the neck with a patch of metallic purplish-red; sides of body and 
inside of wings clear light-blue ; wing coverts and scapulars spotted with black, 
mostly concealed, and an oblong patch of the same below the ear; tail feathers seen 
from 'below blackish, the outer web of outermost white, the others tipped with the 
same, the color becoming more and more bluish to the innermost, which is brown ; 
seen from above, there is the same graduation from white to light-blue in the tips ; 
the rest of the feather, however, is blue, with a bar of black anterior to the light tip, 
which runs a little forward along the margin and shaft of the feather; in the sixth 
feather the color is uniform bluish, with this bar; the seventh is without bar; bill 
black; feet yellow. Female smaller, and with less red beneath. 

Length of male, twelve and eighty-five one-hundredths inches; wing, five and 
seventy-five one-hundredths ; tail, six and seventy one-hundredths inches. 

This beautiful and well-known species is distributed 
throughout New England as a summer resident. It is 
more rarely seen in the more northern sections than in the 
southern; but it breeds in all these States. It arrives 
from the South early in spring, sometimes by the 10th of 
March. On its first appearance, it is found in small, loose 
flocks of five or six individuals, which frequent old stubble- 
fields and orchards, where they feed on scattered grains and 
the seeds of various weeds. They also sometimes associate 
with domestic doves in the .poultry yard, as I have witnessed 
on several occasions. 

About the middle of May, they separate into pairs, and 
commence their duties of incubation. The nest is placed in 
a forked, horizontal branch of a tree, sometimes in the 
orchard, usually in a grove of pines or in a swamp. It is, 
like the nest of the Wild Pigeon, a loose, frail structure, in 
which the female deposits two eggs, which are pure-white 
in color, and usually nearly oval in form. 

A great number of specimens in my collection, from dif- 
ferent parts of the country, vary from 1.20 by .85 to .98 by 
.82 inch. The size most often found is about 1.12 by .80 
inch. Two broods are reared in the season. 

About the last of July, the old birds and young collect in 
flocks, and frequent grain-fields, where they feed upon the 



THE CAROLINA DOVE. 377 

grain, and berry-patches, where they eat plentifully of 
berries : they are now fat, and very delicate eating ; and, as 
they are much pursued by gunners, they soon become very 
shy, and difficult of approach. 

During the mating season, and part of the period of incu- 
bation, the male has a soft, melancholy cooing note, which 
he utters often through the day. During the remainder of 
the year, he seems to have no note ; for I have watched indi- 
viduals for hours to ascertain, and never heard them emit 
any thing but the short chuckle peculiar to all doves. 

By the first week in October, this species leaves New 
England on its southern migration. 



378 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



SUB-ORDER GALLINJE. 



Bill usually rather short and stout, and less than the head ; basal portion hard, 
generally covered with feathers, and not by a soft naked skin; legs lengthened; 
the hind toe generally elevated above the level of the rest, and short ; when lower 
down, it is longer; toes connected at the base by a membrane; the feathers of fore- 
head not extending on the culmen in a point, but more restricted, and parted by the 
backward extension of the culmen. 



FAMILY TETRAONID^. THE GROUSE. 



The Tetraonidce are pre-eminently characterized among gallinaceous birds by 
their densely feathered tarsi, and by the feathers of the nasal fossa or groove, which 
fill it completely, and conceal the nostrils; the toes are usually naked (feathered 
to the claws in the ptarmigans), and with pectinations of scales along the edges ; 
the tail feathers vary from sixteen to eighteen and even twenty in number; the 
tail is rounded, acute or forked; the orbital region is generally somewhat bare, 
with a naked stripe above the upper e3 r elid, beset by short fringe-like processes. 

TETRAO, LINNAEUS. 

Tetrao, LINN.EUS, Syst. Nat. (1744) Gray. (Type T. urogallus, L.) 
Tail lengthened, slightly narrowed to the square or somewhat rounded tip; about 
two-thirds the wing; the feathers with stiffened shafts; tarsus feathered to and 
between the bases of the toes ; no unusual feathers on the side of throat ; culmen 
between the nasal fossae nearly half the total length ; color mostly black. 
Inhabit wooded regions. 

TETRAO CANADENSIS. Linnaeus. 
T.ie Canada Grouse ; Spruce Partridge. 

Tetrao Canadensis, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat.^I. (1766) 274. Nutt, Man. I. (1832) 
667. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 437; V. (1839) 563. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Tail of sixteen feathers; feathers above distinctly banded with plumbeous; 
beneath uniform black, with a pectoral band of white, and white on the sides of the 
belly; chin and throat above black; tail with a broad brownish-orange terminal 
band. 

Prevailing color in the male black; each feather of the head, neck, and upper 
parts generally, having its surface waved with plumbeous-gray; this is in the 
form of two or three well-defined concentric bars, parallel to each other, one along 
the exterior edge of the feather, the others behind it ; the sides of the body, the 



THE CANADA GROUSE. 379 

scapulars, and outer surface of the wings are mottled like the back, but more irregu- 
larly, and with a browner shade of gray, the feathers with a central white streak 
expanding towards the tip (on the wing these streaks seen only on some of the 
greater coverts); there is no white above, except as described; the under parts 
are mostly uniform black, the feathers of the sides of the belly and breast broadly 
tipped with white, which sometimes forms a pectoral band; there is a white bar 
across the feathers, at the base of the upper mandible, usually interrupted above; 
a white spot on the lower eyelid, and a white line beginning on the cheeks, and 
running into a series of white spots in the feathers of the throat; the lower feathers 
of this are banded terminally with whitish ; the feathers at the base of the bill, 
and the head, below the eyes and beneath, are pure-black; the quills are dark- 
brown, without any spots or bands, the outer edges only mottled with grayish ; the 
tail feathers are similar, but darker, and the tail is tipped with a band of orange- 
chestnut, nearly half an inch wide, obscured on the central feathers, the under 
tail coverts are black, broadly barred and tipped with white; the feathers of the legs 
mottled-brown and whitish; dirty-white behind the tarsi; the bill is black. 

The female is smaller but somewhat similar, the black bars above broader, the 
mner gray bars of each feather, including the tail, replaced by broader ones of 
brownish-orange; the under parts have the feathers black, barred with the brownish- 
orange, which, on the tips of the belly feathers, is pure-white ; the clear continuous 
black of the head and breast are wanting; the scapulars, greater coverts, and sides, 
are streaked as in the male. 

Length, sixteen and twenty one-hundredths inches ; wing, six and seventy one- 
hundredths ; tail, five and forty-four hundredths inches. 

IT is only in the most retired and unsettled localities in 
northern New England that this very beautiful grouse is 
found. There, in the spruce and pine woods and swamps, 
it is not uncommon as a resident through the year. I have 
shot specimens in the White Mountains, between what is 
called Waterville, a hamlet in Thornton, N.H., and Bethle- 
hem, in the same State ; but they are more commonly found 
in the localities above mentioned. In its native haunts, it 
is very unsuspicious, permitting a person to walk within a 
few feet of it without stirring ; and, when it does take flight, 
it goes but a few rods, when it alights on a tree, and turns 
to watch the intruder. 

It is a very graceful bird on the ground, moving with a 
stately step over the long elastic moss so abundant in the 
woods of Maine. 

It feeds upon the buds of the evergreens, and their seeds 
and foliage. This food imparts to the flesh of the bird a 
disagreeable resinous flavor, particularly in fall and winter, 



380 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

when it can get no other food. In fact, at all seasons, it is 
far inferior to all our other game birds in flesh, and is never 
delicate nor palatable. 

About the middle of May, the female scratches together 
a loose nest, beneath the branches of a creeping fir, and 
lays in it from eight to twelve eggs. These are of a beau- 
tiful yellowish-buff color, with spots and blotches of two 
shades of brown : one a purplish-brown ; the other, a burnt- 
sienna. They average in dimensions about 1.68 by 1.26 
inch : their form is generally ovoidal ; sometimes nearly 
oval, and occasionally more rounded. It is said, that, 
" when incubation begins, the males go apart by themselves 
to different portions of the forest, and remain until late in 
autumn, when they rejoin the females and young." 

This species flourishes well in confinement: it tames 
readily, and soon eats all kinds of grains and seeds, and 
pieces of potatoes and fruits. It requires a large cage or 
coop, and is contented if it has, now and then, a spruce or 
cedar-tree given it to roost and climb upon. 

CUPIDONIA, REICHENBACH. 

Cupidonia, REICHENBACH, Av. Syst. Nat. (1850). (Type Tetrao Cupido, L.) 
Tail short, half the lengthened wings ; the feathers stiffened and more or less 
graduated; bare space of the neck concealed by a tuft of lanceolate feathers; tarsi 
feathered only to near the base, the lower joint scutellate; culmen between the nasal 
fossae scarcely one-tflird the total length. 

CUPIDONIA CUPIDO. Baird. 
The Pinnated Grouse; Prairie Hen; Prairie Chicken. 

Tetrao Cupido, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 274. Wils. Am. Orn., III. (1811) 
104. Nutt. Man., I. 662. Aud. Orn. Biog., II. (1834) 490; V. (1839) 559. 
Cupidonia Americana, Reichenbach. Av. Syst. Nat. (1850). 

DESCRIPTION. 

Tail of eighteen feathers, varied with whitish-brown and brownish-yellow ; almost 
everywhere with well-defined transverse bars of brown on the feathers. 

Body stout, compact; a tuft of long, pointed lanceolate feathers on each side of 
the neck, covering a bare space capable of much inflation; tail short, truncate, much 
graduated, composed of eighteen feathers, the lateral feathers about two-thirds the 



THE PINNATED GROUSE. 381 

middle ; the feathers stiffened, nearly linear and truncate ; the tail is scarcely longer 
than the coverts, and half the length of the wing; tarsi covered with feathers anteriorly 
and laterally to the toes, but bare, with hexagonal scutellae behind; the middle toe 
and claw longer than the tarsus; the toes margined by pectinated processes; a space 
above the eye provided with a dense pectinated process in the breeding season, 
sometimes separated from the eye by a superciliary space covered with feathers. 

Length, sixteen and fifty one-hundredths inches; wing, eight and eighty on e- 
hundredths; tail, four and seventy one-hundredths inches. 

This well-known bird is now found in New England only 
on Martha's Vineyard and Naushon, and perhaps one or 
two other islands off the southern coast of Massachusetts. 




It was once probably very abundant in all the southern New- 
England States : but it is now nearly exterminated here ; 
and very soon, in all probability, it will cease to be one of 
our birds. Having had no opportunities for observing and 
studying its habits, I give the very full and interesting 
description presented by Wilson. He quotes a letter de- 
scribing some of its habits as follows : 

" Amours. The season for pairing is in March, and the breed- 
ing time is continued through April and May. Then the male 
Grouse distinguishes himself by a peculiar sound. When he utters 
it, the parts about the throat are sensibly inflated and swelled. It 
may be heard on a still morning for three or more miles ; some say 



382 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

they have perceived it as far as five or six. This noise is a sort of 
ventriloquism. It does not strike the ear of a bystander with much 
force, but impresses him with the idea, though produced within a 
few rods of him, of a voice a mile or two distant. This note is 
highly characteristic. Though very peculiar, it is termed tooting, 
from its resemblance to the blowing of a conch or horn from a 
remote quarter. The female makes her nest on the ground, in 
recesses very rarely discovered by men. She usually lays from ten 
to twelve eggs, which are of a brownish color, much resembling 
those of a Guinea Hen. When hatched, the brood is protected by 
her alone. Surrounded by her young, the mother-bird exceedingly 
resembles a domestic Hen and chickens. She frequently leads 
them to feed in the roads crossing the woods, on the remains of 
maize and oats contained in the dung dropped by the travelling 
horses. In that employment, they are often surprised by the pas- 
sengers. On such occasions, the dam utters a cry of alarm. The 
little ones immediately scamper to the brush ; and, while they are 
skulking into places of safety, their anxious parent beguiles the 
spectator by drooping and fluttering her wings, limping along the 
path, rolling over in the dirt, and other pretences of inability to 
walk or fly. 

" Food. A favorite article of their diet is the heath-hen plum, 
or partridge-berry. They are fond of whortleberries and cran- 
berries. Worms and insects of several kinds are occasionally found 
in their crops. But, in the winter, they subsist chiefly on acorns 
and the buds of trees which have shed their leaves. In their 
stomachs have been sometimes observed the leaves of a plant sup- 
posed to be a wintergreen ; and it is said, when they are much 
pinched, they betake themselves to the buds of the pine. In con- 
venient places, they have been known to enter cleared fields, and 
regale themselves on the leaves of clover ; and old gunners have 
reported that they have been known to trespass upon patches of 
buckwheat, and pick up the grains. 

" Migration. They are stationary, and never known to quit 
their abode. There are no facts showing in them any disposition 
to migration. On frosty mornings, and during snows, they perch 
on the upper branches of pine-trees. They avoid wet and swampy 
places, and are remarkably attached to dry ground. The low and 



THE PINNATED GROUSE. 383 

open brush is preferred to high shrubbery and thickets. Into these 
latter places they fly for refuge when closely pressed by the hunt- 
ers ; and here, under a stiff and impenetrable cover, they escape 
the pursuit of dogs and men. Water is so seldom met with on the 
true Grouse ground, that it is necessary to carry it along for the 
pointers to drink. The flights of Grouse are short but sudden, 
rapid, and whirring. I have not heard of any success in taming 
them. They seem to resist all attempts at domestication. In this, 
as well as in many other respects, they resemble the Quail of New 
York or the Partridge of Pennsylvania. 

"Manners. During the period of mating, and while the 
females are occupied in incubation, the males have a practice of 
assembling, principally by themselves. To some select and central 
spot, where there is very little underwood, they repair from the 
adjoining district. From the exercise performed there, this is called 
a scratching-place. The time of meeting is the break of day. 
As soon as the light appears, the company assembles from every 
side, sometimes to the number of forty or fifty. When the dawn 
is past, the ceremony begins by a low tooting from one of the 
cocks. This is answered by another. They then come forth one 
by one from the bushes, and strut 'about with all the pride and 
ostentation they can display. Their necks are incurvated ; the 
feathers on them are erected into a sort of ruff; the plumes of their 
tails are expanded like fans ; they strut about in a style resembling, 
as nearly as small may be illustrated by great, the pomp of the Tur- 
key-cock. They seem to vie with each other in stateliness ; and, as 
they pass each other, frequently cast looks of insult, and utter notes 
of defiance. These are the signals for battles. They engage with 
wonderful spirit and fierceness. During these contests, they leap a 
foot or two from the ground, and utter a cackling, screaming, and 
discordant cry. 

" They have been found in these places of resort even earlier 
than the appearance of light in the east. This fact has led to the 
belief that a part of them assemble over night. The rest join them 
in the morning. This leads to the further belief that they roost on 
the ground ; and the opinion is confirmed by the discovery of little 
rings of dung, apparently deposited by a flock which had passed 
the night together. After the appearance of the sun, they disperse. 



384 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

" These places of exhibition have been often discovered by the 
hunters ; and a fatal discovery it has been for the poor Grouse. 
Their destroyers construct for themselves lurking-holes made of pine 
branches, called bough houses, within a few yards of the parade. 
Hither they repair with their fowling-pieces, in the latter part of 
the night, and wait the appearance of the birds. Watching the 
moment when two are proudly eying each other, or engaged in 
battle, or when a greater number can be seen in a range, they pour 
on them a destructive charge of shot. This annoyance has been 
given in so many places, and to such extent, that the Grouse, after 
having been repeatedly disturbed, are afraid to assemble. On 
approaching the spot to which their instinct prompts them, they 
perch on the neighboring trees, instead of alighting at the scratch- 
ing-place ; and it remains to be observed how far the restless and 
tormenting spirit of the marksmen may alter the native habits of 
the Grouse, and oblige them to betake themselves to new ways 
of life. 

"They commonly keep together in coveys, or packs, as the 
phrase is, until the pairing season. A full pack consists, of course, 
of ten or a dozen. Two packs have been known to associate. I 
lately heard of one whose number amounted to twenty-two. They 
are so unapt to be startled, that a hunter, assisted by a dog, has 
been able to shoot almost a whole pack, without making any of 
them take wing. In like manner, the men lying in concealment 
near the scratching-places have been known to discharge several 
guns before either the report of the explosion, or the sight of their 
wounded and dead fellows, would rouse them to flight. It has 
further been remarked, that, when a company of sportsmen have 
surrounded a pack of Grouse, the birds seldom or never rise upon 
their pinions while they are encircled ; but each runs along until 
it passes the person that is nearest, and then flutters off with the 
utmost expedition. SAMUEL L. MITCHILL." 

He then continues with his own observations : 

" This bird, though an inhabitant of different and very distant 
districts of North America, is extremely particular in selecting his 
place of residence ; pitching only upon those tracts whose features 
and productions correspond with his modes of life, and avoiding 



THE PINNATED GROUSE. 385 

immense, intermediate regions that he never visits. Open, dry 
plains, thinly interspersed with trees, or partially overgrown with 
shrub oak, are his favorite haunts. Accordingly, we find these 
birds on the Grouse plains of New Jersey, in Burlington County, 
as well as on the brushy plains of Long Island ; among the pines 
and shrub oaks of Pocano, in Northampton County, Pennsylvania ; 
over the whole extent of the Barrens of Kentucky ; on the luxuri- 
ant plains and prairies of the Indiana Territory, and Upper Louisi- 
ana ; and, according to the information of the late Governor Lewis, 
on the vast arid remote plains of the Columbia River ; in all these 
places preserving the same singular habits. 

" Their predilection for such situations will be best accounted for 
by considering the following facts and circumstances : First, their 
mode of flight is generally direct and laborious, and ill calculated 
for the labyrinth of a high and thick forest, crowded and intersected 
with trunks and arms of trees, that require continual angular evolu- 
tion of wing, or sudden turnings, to which they are by no means 
accustomed. I have always observed them to avoid the high- 
timbered groves that occur here and there in the Barrens. Con- 
nected with this fact is a circumstance related to me by a very 
respectable inhabitant of that country ; viz., that, one forenoon, a 
cock Grouse struck the stone chimney of his house with such force 
as instantly to fall dead to the ground. 

" Secondly, their known dislike of ponds, marshes, or watery 
places, which they avoid on all occasions ; drinking but seldom, and, 
it is believed, never from such places. Eyen in confinement, this 
peculiarity has been taken notice of. While I was in the State of 
Tennessee, a person living within a few miles of Nashville had 
caught an old hen Grouse in a trap ; and, being obliged to keep her 
in a large cage, as she struck and abused the rest of the poultry, 
he remarked that she never drank, and that she even avoided that 
quarter of the cage where the cup containing the water was placed. 
Happening, one day, to let some water fall on the cage, it trickled 
down in drops along the bars, which the bird no sooner observed 
than she eagerly picked them off, drop by drop, with a dexterity 
that showed she had been habituated to this mode of quenching her 
thirst, and probably to this mode only, in those dry and barren 
tracts, where, except the drops of dew and drops of rain, water is 

25 



386 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

very rarely to be met with. For the space of a week, he watched 
her closely, to discover whether she still refused to drink; but, 
though she was constantly fed on Indian corn, the cup and water 
still remained untouched and untasted. Yet no sooner did he 
again sprinkle water on the bars of the cage, than she eagerly and 
rapidly picked them off as before. 

"The last, and probably the strongest, inducement to their 
preferring these plains is the small acorn of the shrub oak, the 
strawberries, huckleberries, and partridge-berries, with which they 
abound, and which constitute the principal part of the food of these 
birds. These brushy thickets also afford them excellent shelter, 
being almost impenetrable to dogs or birds of prey. 

" In all these places where they inhabit, they are, in the strict- 
est sense of the word, resident ; having their particular haunts and 
places of rendezvous (as described in the preceding account), to 
which they are strongly attached. Yet they have been known to 
abandon an entire tract of such country, when, from whatever 
cause it might proceed, it became again covered with forest. A 
few miles south of the town of York, in Pennsylvania, commences 
an extent of country, formerly of the character described, now 
chiefly covered with wood, but still retaining the name of Barrens. 
In the recollection of an old man born in that part of the country, 
this tract abounded with Grouse. The timber growing up, in 
progress of years, these birds totally disappeared ; and, for a long 
period of time, he had seen none of them, until, migrating with his 
family to Kentucky, on entering the Barrens, he, one morning, 
recognized the well-known music of his old acquaintance, the 
Grouse, which, he assures me, are the very same with those he 
had known in Pennsylvania. 

" But what appears to me the most remarkable circumstance 
relative to this bird is, that not one of all those writers who have 
attempted its history have taken the least notice of those two 
extraordinary bags of yellow skin which mark the neck of the 
male, and which constitute so striking a peculiarity. These appear 
to be formed by an expansion of the gullet, as well as of the exte- 
rior skin of the neck, which, when the bird is at rest, hangs in 
loose, pendulous, wrinkled folds along the side of the neck ; the 
supplemental wings, at the same time, as well as when the bird is 



THE PINNATED GROUSE. 387 

flying, lying along the neck. But when these bags are inflated 
with air, in breeding-time, they are equal in size, and very much 
resemble in color, a middle-sized, fully ripe orange. By means of 
this curious apparatus, which is very observable several hundred 
yards off, he is enabled to produce the extraordinary sound men- 
tioned above, which, though it may easily be imitated, is yet diffi- 
cult to describe by words. It consists of three notes of the same 
tone, resembling those produced by the Night Hawks in their rapid 
descent ; each strongly accented, the last being twice as long as the 
others. When several are thus engaged, the ear is unable to dis- 
tinguish the regularity of these triple notes ; there being, at such 
times, one continued bumming, which is disagreeable and perplex- 
ing, from the impossibility of ascertaining from what distance, or 
even quarter, it proceeds. While uttering this, the bird exhibits 
all the ostentatious gesticulations of a Turkey-cock ; erecting and 
fluttering his neck-wings, wheeling and passing before the female, 
and close before his fellows, as in defiance. Now and then are 
heard some rapid, cackling notes, not unlike that of a person tickled 
to excessive laughter ; and, in short, one can scarcely listen to 
them without feeling disposed to laugh from sympathy. These are 
uttered by the males while engaged in fight, on which occasion 
they leap up against each other, exactly in the manner of Turkeys, 
seemingly with more malice than effect. This bumming continues 
from a little before daybreak to eight or nine o'clock in the morn- 
ing, when the parties separate to seek for food. 

" Fresh-ploughed fields, in the vicinity of their resorts, are sure 
to be visited by these birds every morning, and frequently also in the 
evening. On one of these I counted, at one time, seventeen males, 
making such a continued sound, as, I am persuaded, might have 
been heard for more than a mile off. The people of the Barrens 
informed me, that, when the weather becomes severe with snow, 
they approach the barn and farm-house, are sometimes seen sitting 
on the fences in dozens, mix with the poultry, and glean up the 
scattered grains of Indian corn, seeming almost half domesticated. 
At such times, great numbers are taken in traps. No pains, how- 
ever, or regular plan, has ever been persisted in, as far as I was 
informed, to domesticate these delicious birds. A Mr. Reed, who 
lives between the Pilot Knobs and Bairdstown, told me, that, a few 



388 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

years ago, one of his sons found a Grouse's nest with fifteen eggs, 
which he brought home, and immediately placed beneath a hen then 
sitting, taking away her own. The nest of the Grouse was on the 
ground, under a tussock of long grass, formed with very little art, 
and few materials : the eggs were brownish- white, and about the 
size of a pullet's. In three or four days, the whole were hatched. 
Instead of following the hen, they compelled her to run after them, 
distracting her with the extent and diversity of their wanderings ; 
and it was a day or two before they seemed to understand her 
language, or consent to be guided by her. They were let out to 
the fields, where they paid little regard to their nurse ; and, in a 
few days, only three of them remained. These became extremely 
tame and familiar, were most expert flycatchers ; but, soon after, 
they also disappeared. 

The eggs of this species are generally ovoidal in form, 
and are often pretty sharply tapered at their small ends. 
They vary in color from a dirty-drab to a grayish-white, and 
are covered more or less thickly with fine spots or dots of 
brown : some specimens have none of these marking's, while 
others are abundantly spotted. A large number of speci- 
mens in my collection average about 1.80 by 1.25 inch in 
dimensions. 

BONASA, STEPHENS. 

Bonaw, STEPHENS, Shaw's Gen. Zool., XI. (1819). (Type Tetrao bonasia, L.) 
Tail widening to the end, its feathers very broad, as long as the wings ; the 
feathers soft, and eighteen in number; tarsi naked in the lower half; covered with 
two rows of hexagonal scales anteriorly, as in the Ortygince; sides of toes strongly 
pectinated ; naked space on the side of throat covered by a tuft of broad soft feathers ; 
portion of culmen between the nasal fossae about one-third the total length ; top of 
head with a soft crest. 

BONASA UMBELLUS. Stephens. 
The Ruffed Grouse ; Partridge ; Pheasant. 

Tetrao umbellus, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 275. Wils. Am. Orn., VI. 
(1812) 46. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. (1831) 211; V. 660. 

Tetrao (Bonasia) umbellm, Bonaparte. Syn. (1828), 126. Nutt. Man., I. (1832) 

Bonata umbettus, Stephens. Shaw, Gen. Zool., XI. (1824) 300. 



THE RUFFED GROUSE. 389 

DESCRIPTION. 

Tail of eighteen feathers, reddish-brown or gray above ; the back with cordate 
spots of lighter ; beneath whitish, transversely barred with dull-brown ; tail tipped 
with gray, and with a subterminal bar of black ; broad feathers of the ruff black. 

Tail lengthened, nearly as long as the wing ; very broad, and moderately 
rounded ; the feathers very broad and truncate, the tip slightly convex, eighteen in 
number; upper half of tarsus only feathered; bare behind and below, with two 
rows of hexagonal scutellae anteriorly; a naked space on the side of the neck, con- 
cealed by an overhanging tuft of broad, truncate feathers ; there are no pectinated 
processes above the eye, where the skin instead is clothed with short feathers. 

Length, eighteen inches; wing, seven and twenty one-hundredths ; tail, seven 
inches. 



This beautiful and well-known bird, commonly, but very 
improperly, called Partridge, is a general resident in all the 
New-England States throughout the year. In the most 
retired localities, and in the near vicinage of towns, it is 
found almost equally abundant ; and its habits and charac- 
teristics are the same in all localities, except that in thickly 
settled districts, in consequence of its being more pursued 
by sportsmen, it is much wilder and more difficult of ap- 
proach than in less settled neighborhoods. So tame and 
unsuspicious are these birds in the deep forests, that I have 
had considerable difficulty at times in flushing them. When 
I have approached them, instead of flying off, as they should, 
they stood watching me like so many barn-yard fowls ; and 
when I walked up to within a few feet of them, to get them 
a-wing, for no true sportsman will ever kill a game bird 
unless it is flying, they only retreated slowly into a thicket 
of undergrowth, and remained there until actually forced to 
take flight. 

About the first of May, sometimes a little earlier, more 
often later, the female withdraws from the society of the 
male, and repairs to a retired spot in the woods, where, 
usually beneath a thicket of evergreen, or a bunch of brush, 
or perhaps a fallen log or rock, she scrapes together a few 
leaves into a loose nest, and deposits from eight to twelve 
eggs. These are usually of a yellowish-white, sometimes 
a darker color, sometimes nearly pure-white. They are 



390 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

usually ovoidal in form, sometimes nearly rounded, and their 
dimensions average about 1.65 by 1.20 inches : specimens 
are occasionally found much larger than this size, and many 
considerably smaller. In about fifty specimens before me, 
collected perhaps in ten different States, about five are of a 
yellowish-buff color, marked with numerous spots of brown ; 
others are more yellowish, and have more obscure spots, 
while the greater number have no markings at all. 

From several instances which have come to my knowl- 
edge, I am inclined to think that the female Ruffed Grouse, 
if persistently molested when nesting on the ground, avails 
herself of the abandoned nest of a crow, or the shelter 
afforded in the top of some tall broken trunk of a tree, 
in which she deposits her eggs. Two of my collectors in 
Northern Maine have sent me eggs which they positively 
declared were found in a crow's nest in a high pine, but 
which are undoubtedly of this species ; and recently I have 
heard of another occurrence from my friend L. E. Rick- 
seeker, of Pennsylvania. The only satisfactory theory that 
I can advance to account for these departures from the 
usual habits of the Grouse is, that the birds had been much 
disturbed, their eggs or young perhaps destroyed ; and as 
they are often in the trees, and are expert climbers, they 
laid their eggs in these lofty situations to secure protection 
from their numerous foes below. 

During the season of incubation, the males congregate 
together and remain apart from the females, until the young 
birds are nearly full-grown : they then join them, and remain 
with them until the ensuing spring. 

JEarty in spring, the male begins " drumming: " this habit 
is peculiar to this species, and is probably familiar to all 
persons who have passed much of their time in the woods. 

I have heard this drumming as early as February, and as 
late as September ; but usually it is not heard much before 
the first of April. The bird resorts to a fallen trunk of a 
tree or log, and, while strutting like the male Turkey, beats 



THE RUFFED GROUSE. 391 

his wings against his sides and the log with considerable 
force. This produces a hollow drumming noise, that may 
be heard to a considerable distance : it commences very 
slowly, and, after a few strokes, gradually increases in 
velocity, and terminates with a rolling beat very similar to 
the roll of a drum. 

I know not by what law of acoustics, but this drumming 
is peculiar in sounding equally as loud at a considerable 
distance off, as within a few rods. I have searched for the 
bird when I have heard the drumming, and, while supposing 
him to be at a considerable distance, have flushed him within 
the distance of fifty feet, and vice versa. 

The young birds, like those of all our G-allince, follow 
their mother almost as soon as they are hatched. I have 
often found these broods in the woods, and can com- 
pare them to nothing so much as the chicks of domestic 
poultry. 

The female, when her family is surprised, quickly gives a 
warning cluck, when the whole brood adroitly conceal them- 
selves. I have known a number to disappear, as if by 
magic, beneath a bunch of leaves or grass ; and it required 
a long, careful search to discover their whereabouts. 

I once came suddenly upon a covey of these young birds, 
when the mother, taken by surprise, uttering a harsh cry, 
flew at my foot, and commenced picking it fiercely : the 
young scrambled off, uttering faint peets, when the old bird, 
perhaps astonished at this departure from her usual mod- 
esty, suddenly retreated, and concealed herself. The young 
birds associate with the female until scattered by sportsmen 
or by a scarcity of provender. They are much more deli- 
cate as food, when about two-thirds grown, than the old 
birds, as they have less of that peculiar bitter taste, and 
have a rich flavor, almost similar to that of the Woodcock. 

The food of this species consists of various seeds, berries, 
grapes, and insects. When nothing else can be obtained, 
they will eat the leaves of the evergreens, and buds of 



392 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

trees ; and, when all other food is covered with snow, they 
eat dried pieces of apples that are left hanging on the trees, 
mosses, and leaves of the laurel. It is after feeding on this 
last plant that their flesh becomes dangerous to be eaten ; 
and it is always safe not to eat these birds in winter, if they 
have been killed for any great length of time, or if their 
intestines and crops have been left in them. 

One habit that this species has is, I believe, peculiar to 
it; and that is its manner of diving into the deep snow 
to pass the night in cold weather: this it does very fre- 
quently, and its snowy covering affords it a warm and 
effectual protection. But if it rains during the night, and 
then the weather changes to freezing, the Grouse, imprisoned 
beneath the crust that forms on the surface of the snow, 
soon dies ; and it is noticed, that, in seasons after winters 
when the weather frequently changes from raining to freez- 
ing, there is a scarcity of these birds. It is a common 
occurrence to find them, in the spring, dead, having perished 
in this manner. 



THE VIRGINIA PARTRIDGE. 393 



FAMILY PERDICIDJE. THE PARTRIDGES. 

Nostrils protected by a naked scale ; the tarsi bare and scutellate. 

The Perditidce differ from the Grouse in the bare legs and naked nasal fossae ; 
they are much smaller in size and more abundant in species ; they are widely dis- 
tributed over the surface, of the globe, a large number belonging to America, where 
the sub-families have no Old- World representatives whatever ; the head seldom, if 
ever, shows the naked space around and above the eye, so common in the Tetraonidce ; 
and the sides of the toes scarcely exhibit the peculiar pectination formed by a suc- 
cession of small scales or plates. 



Sub-Family ORTTGIN^E. 

Bill stout; the lower mandible more or less bidentate on each side near the end. 

The Ortygince of Bonaparte, or OdontophorincB of other authors, are characterized 
as a group by the bidentation on either side of the edge of lower mandible, usually 
concealed in the closed mouth, and sometimes scarcely appreciable ; the bill is short, 
and rather high at base, stouter and shorter than what is usually seen in Old- 
World partridges ; the culmen is curved from the base ; the tip of the bill broad, 
and overlapping the end of the lower mandible; the nasal groove is short; the tail is 
rather broad and long. 

ORTYX, STEPHENS. 

Ortyx, STEPHENS, Shaw's Gen. Zool., XI. (1819). (Type Tetrao Virginianm, L.) 

Bill stout ; head entirely without any crest ; tail short, scarcely more than half 

the wing, composed of moderately soft feathers ; wings normal ; legs developed, the 

toes reaching considerably beyond the tip of the tail ; the lateral toes short, equal, 

their claws falling decidedly short of the base of the middle claw. 



OETYX VIRGINIANUS. Bonaparte. 
The Virginia Partridge; Quail; Bob-white. 

Tetrao Virginianus, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 277. 

Perdix Virginiana, Wilson. Am. Orn., VI. (1812) 21. Aud. Orn. Biog., I. 
(1831) 388; V. (1839) 564. 

. Ortyx Virginiana, Jardine. Nat. Lib. Birds, IV, ; Game Birds, 101. 
Perdix ( Colinia) Virginiana, Nuttall. Man., I. (1832) 646. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Forehead, and line through the eye and along the side of the necK, with chin 
and throat, white ; a band of black across the vertex, and extending backwards on 
the sides, within the white, and another from the maxilla beneath the eye, and 
crossing on the lower part of the throat ; the under parts are white, tinged with 
brown anteriorly, each feather with several narrow, obtusely V-shaped bands of 



394 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

black; the forepart of back, the side of the breast and in front just below the black 
collar, of a dull pinkish-red; the sides of body and wing coverts brownish-red; the 
latter almost uniform, without indication of mottling; scapulars and upper tertials 
coarsely blotched with black, and edged internally with brownish-yellow; top of 
head reddish ; the lower part of neck, except anteriorly, streaked with white and 
black; primary quills unspotted brown; tail ash. 

Female with the white markings of the head replaced by brownish-yellow ; the 
black wanting. 

This species is subject to considerable variations both of size and color, the more 
northern 'being considerably the larger; southern specimens are darker, with 
more black about the head, on the wings, and the middle of the back ; there is also 
a more appreciable mottling on the wings, and the feathers of the back are streaked 
with black. 

Length, ten inches ; wing, four and seventy one-hundredths inches ; tail, two and 
eighty-five one-hundredths inches. 

THIS beautiful bird, very improperly called the Quail, is 
not very connnon in any part of New England north 
of Massachusetts ; and in that State it is rapidly becoming 
rare, both in consequence of the destructive pertinacity 
with which it is followed by all sportsmen, and the abomi- 
nable practice of snaring and netting it, that is growing too 
common. In Massachusetts and the other southern New- 
England States, it is partially migratory in the fall ; repair- 
ing to the neighborhood of the seacoast, where it remains 
two or three weeks : it returns to the fields and swamps, by 
the first fall of snow, where it passes the winter. Its habits 
are pretty well known in New England ; but, that my 
readers may know about it elsewhere, I give the very inter- 
esting description by Wilson. He says, 

" They are most numerous in the vicinity of well-cultivated 
plantations, where grain is in plenty. They, however, occasionally 
seek shelter in the woods, perching on the branches, or secreting 
themselves among the brushwood ; but are found most usually in 
open fields, or along fences sheltered by thickets of briers. Where 
they are not too much persecuted by the sportsmen, they become 
almost half domesticated ; approach the barn, particularly in winter, 
and sometimes, in that severe season, mix with the poultry to glean 
up a subsistence. They remain with us the whole year, and often 
suffer extremely by long, hard winters and deep snows. At such 



THE VIRGINIA PARTRIDGE. 395 

times, the arts of man combine with the inclemency of the season 
for their destruction. To the ravages of the gun are added others 
of a more insidious kind ; traps are placed on almost every planta- 
tion, in such places as they are known to frequent. These are 
formed of lath, or thinly split sticks, somewhat in the shape of an 
obtuse cone, laced together with cord, having a small hole at top, 
with a sliding lid, to take out the game by. This is supported by 
the common figure-four trigger, and grain is scattered below and 
leading to the place. By this contrivance, ten or fifteen have some- 
times been taken at a time. 

" The Partridge begins to build early in May. The nest is 
made on the ground, usually at the bottom of a thick tuft of grass, 
that shelters and conceals it. The materials are leaves and fine 
dry grass in considerable quantity. It is well covered above, and 
an opening left on one side for entrance. The female lays from 
fifteen to twenty-four eggs, of a pure-white, without any spots. 
The time of incubation has been stated to me, by various persons, 
at four weeks, when the eggs were placed under the domestic Hen. 
The young leave the nest as soon as they are freed from the shell, 
and are conducted about in search of food by the female ; are 
guided by her voice, which, at that time, resembles the twittering 
of young chickens, and sheltered by her wings, in the same manner 
as those of the domestic fowl, but with all that secrecy and precau- 
tion for their safety which their helplessness and greater danger 
require. In this situation, should the little timid family be unex- 
pectedly surprised, the utmost alarm and consternation instantly 
prevail. The mother throws herself in the path, fluttering along, 
and beating the ground with her wings, as if sorely wounded; 
using every artifice she is mistress of to entice the passenger in pur- 
suit of herself; uttering, at the same time, certain peculiar notes of 
alarm, well understood by the young, who dive separately amongst 
the grass, and secrete themselves till the danger is over : and the 
parent, having decoyed the pursuer to a safe distance, returns, by a 
circuitous route, to collect and lead them off. This well-known 
manoeuvre, which nine times in ten is successful, is honorable 
to the feelings and judgment of the bird, but a severe satire on 
man. The affectionate mother, as if sensible of the avaricious 
cruelty of his nature, tempts him with a larger prize, to save her 



396 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

more helpless offspring ; and pays him, as avarice and cruelty ought 
always to be paid, with mortification and disappointment." 

In a great number of eggs in my collection, from many 
different localities, some specimens are nearly pure-white, 
while others are smeared with some blotches or confluent 
dabs of yellowish: whether these are stains caused by 
moisture or dirt, I am ignorant ; but they are permanent, 
for I cannot remove them by water or alcohol. I judge they 
are stains from the earth or decayed vegetation on which 
they were laid. Their form is pyriform ; and their average 
length about 1.20 inch, and greatest width 1 inch. 



NOTES. 

I continue Mr. Couper's notes, made at Quebec, Lower 
Canada : 

ECTOPISTES MIGRATORIUS. The Passenger Pigeon is not so common 
in this portion of Lower as in Upper Canada, where they breed in large 
numbers. They are found breeding in the eastern townships of Lower 
Canada ; but I have not ascertained that they breed in this district or north 
of it. I remember at one time finding a nest of this pigeon in the woods 
north of Toronto : it contained a single young one. I believe there are 
many instances of its breeding in solitary pairs, something like the Wood 
Pigeon of Europe. 

ZENAIDUEA CAROLINENSIS. The Carolina Dove has never been noticed 
in Lower Canada. It occurs occasionally in the woods north of the city of 
Toronto, where, I believe, it breeds. 

TETRAO CANADENSIS. This species is very common from October to 
February. They are in prime condition during the last month. It breeds 
on both sides of the St. Lawrence, but more common on the south. During 
the above months, there are generally six males to one female exhibited 
on our markets. The inhabitants inform me that females are very scarce 
during winter. This is a parodox to me, when I know that both male and 
female feed on the same tree. What is also astonishing, the nest and eggs 
of this bird are as hard to discover in spring as the female is in winter. I 
have offered to purchase every nest of this species brought to me; but, 
strange to say, I have not been fortunate in seeing one yet. 

BONASA UMBELLUS. Common. Breeds. I have repeatedly found the 
nest of this species. 



ORDER V. GRALLATORES. 397 



ORDER Y. GRALLATORES. 1 WADERS. 

Legs, neck, and usually the bill, much lengthened; tibia bare 
for a certain distance above the tarsal joint ; nostrils exposed ; tail 
usually very short ; the species live along or near the water, more 
rarely in dry plains, wading, never swimming habitually, except 
perhaps in the case of the Phalaropes. 

The bill of the Grallatores is usually in direct proportion to the 
length of legs and neck. The toes vary, but are usually connected 
at the base by a membrane, which sometimes extends almost or 
quite to the claws. 

The Grallatores, like the Rasores and Natatores, are divisible 
into two sub-orders, according as the species rear and feed their 
young in nests, or allow them to shift for themselves. The follow- 
ing diagnoses express the general character of these subdivisions : 

HERODIONES. Face or lores more or less naked, or else 
covered with feathers different from those on the rest of the 
body, except in some Gruidce ; bill nearly as thick at the base as 
the skull ; hind toe generally nearly on same level with the ante- 
rior ; young reared in nests, and requiring to be fed by the parent. 

GRALLJE. Lores with feathers similar to those on the rest of 
the body ; bill contracted at base, where it is usually smaller than 
the skull ; hind toe generally elevated ; young running about at 
birth, and able to feed themselves. 

1 See Introduction. 



398 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



SUB-ORDER HERODIONES. 

Bill generally thick at the base and much longer than the head ; frontal feathers 
with a rounded outline; lores, and generally the region round the eye (sometimes 
most of the head), naked. 

The primary characteristic of the Herodiones, though physiological rather than 
zoological, is of the highest importance ; the young are born weak and imperfect, 
and are reared in the nest, being fed directly by the parent until able to take care of 
themselves, when they are generally abandoned. In the Grallce, on the contrary, 
the young run about freely, directly after being hatched, and are capable of securing 
food for themselves under the direction of the parent. 

The chief zoological character (not, however, entirely without exception) is to be 
found in the bill, which is generally very large, much longer than the head, and 
thickened at the base so as to be nearly or quite as broad and high as the skull ; the 
lores are almost always naked, or, if 'covered, it is with feathers of a different kind 
from those on the rest of the body; the hind toe in most genera is lengthened and 
on a level with the anterior, so as to be capable of grasping ; sometimes, however, it 
is elevated and quite short. BAIRD. 



FAMILY ARDEIDJE. THE HERONS. 

Bill conical, acuminate, compressed, and acute ; the edges usually nicked at the 
end; the frontal feathers generally extending beyond the nostrils; tarsi scutellate 
anteriorly; the middle toe connected to the outer by a basal web; claws acute; the 
edge of the middle one serrated or pectinated on its inner edge. 

GARZETTA, BONAPARTE. 

Garzetta, BONAPARTE, Consp., II. (1855) 118. (Type Ardea garzetta, L., 
whether of Kaup, 1829?) 

Bill slender; outlines nearly straight to near the tip, when they are about 
equally convex ; middle toe more than half the tarsus ; tarsi broadly scutellate ante- 
riorly ; tibia denuded for about one-half; outer toe longest ; head with a full occipital 
crest of feathers having the webs decomposed, hair-like ; feathers of lower part of 
throat similar; middle of back with long plumes reaching to the tail, recurving at 
tip; these plumes and the crest apparently permanent ; lower part of neck behind, 
bare of feathers; colors pure-white in all ages. 

GARZETTA CANDIDISSIMA. Bonaparte. 
The Snowy Heron. 

Ardea candidissima, Gmelin. Syst. Nat'., I. (1788) 633. Wils. Am. Orn., VII. 
(1813) 120. Nutt. Man., II. (1834) 49. Aud. Orn. Biog., III. (1835) 317; V. 
(1839) 606. 

Garzelta candidimma, Bonaparte. Consp. (1855), 119. 



THE SNOWY HERON. 



399 



DESCRIPTION. 

Occiput much crested; dorsal plumes reaching to the end of the tail ; colors pure- 
white; bill black; the base j^ellow; legs black; iris, hazel in young, yellow in 
adult. 

Length, twenty-four inches; wing, ten and twenty on e-hundredths inches; tar- 
sus, three and eighty one-hundredths inches; bill, above, three and fifteen one-hun- 
dredths inches. 

THIS beautiful bird is a very rare summer visitor in 
the southern New-England States. I have never had 
an opportunity for observing its habits, and will give the 
description by Wilson : 

" The Snowy Heron seems particularly fond of the salt marshes 
during summer, seldom penetrating far inland. Its white plumage 
renders it a very conspicuous object, either while on wing, or while 
wading the meadows or marshes. 
Its food consists of those small 
crabs usually called fiddlers, mud- 
worms, snails, frogs, and lizards. 
It also feeds on the seeds of some 
species of nymphse, and of several 
other aquatic plants. 

On the 19th of May, I visited 
an extensive breeding-place of the 
Snowy Heron, among the red ce- 
dars of Summer's Beach, on the 
coast of Cape May. The situation 
was very sequestered, bounded on 
the land side by a fresh-water 
marsh or pond, and sheltered from 
the Atlantic by ranges of sand-hills. The cedars, though not high, 
were so closely crowded together as to render it difficult to pene- 
trate through among them. Some trees contained three, others 
four nests, built wholly of sticks. Each had in it three eggs of a 
pale greenish-blue color, and measuring an inch and three-quarters 
in length by an inch and a quarter in thickness. Forty or fifty of 
these eggs were cooked, and found to be well tasted : the white 
was of a bluish tint, and almost transparent, though boiled for a 
considerable time ; the yolk very small in quantity. The birds 




400 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

rose in vast numbers, but without clamor, alighting on the tops of 
the trees around, and watching the result in silent anxiety. Among 
them were numbers of the Night Heron, and two or three Purple- 
headed Herons. Great quantities of egg-shells lay scattered under 
the trees, occasioned by the depredations of the Crows, who were 
continually hovering about the place. On one of the nests I found 
the dead body of the bird itself, half devoured by the Hawks, 
Crows, or Gulls. She had probably perished in defence of her 

eggs. 

" The Snowy Heron is seen at all times during summer among 
the salt marshes, watching and searching for food, or passing, some- 
times in flocks, from one part of the bay to the other. They often 
make excursions up the rivers and inlets, but return regularly in 
the evening to the red cedars on the beach to roost." 

ARDEA, LINN^US. 

Ardea, LINNAEUS, Syst. Nat., I. (1735). (Type A. cinerea.) 

Bill very thick ; culmen nearly straight; gonys ascending, its tip more convex 
than that of culmen ; middle toe more than half the tarsus ; tibia bare for nearly 
or quite one-half; claws short, much curved; outer toe longest; tarsus broadly 
scutellate anteriorly; occiput with a few elongated occipital feathers; scapulars 
elongate lanceolate, as long as the secondaries ; no dorsal plumes ; tail of twelve 
broad stiffened feathers ; back of neck well feathered ; size very large ; colors plum- 
beous, streaked beneath. 

ARDEA HERODIAS. Linnaeus. 
The Great Blue Heron, or Crane. 

Ardea Herodias, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 237. Wils. Am. Orn., VIII. 
(1814) 28. Nutt. Man., II. (1834) 42. Aud. Orn. Biog., III. (1835) 87; V. 599. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Lower third of tibia bare; above bluish-ash; edges of wing and the tibia rufous; 
neck cinnamon-brown; head black, with a white frontal patch; body beneath black, 
broadly streaked on the belly with white; crissum white; middle line of throat 
white, streaked with black and rufous. 

Adult. Bill yellow, dusky at the base and greenish above ; the forehead and 
central part of the crown are white, encircled laterally and behind by black, of 
which color is the occipital crest and its two elongated feathers ; the neck is of a 
light smoky cinnamon-brown, with perhaps a tinge of purple; the chin and throat 
whitish ; the feathers along the central line of the throat to the breast white, streaked 
with black, and also with reddish-brown, except on the elongated feathers of the 



THE GREAT BLUE HERON. 401 

breast ; the body may be described as bluish-ash above and on the sides ; the under 
parts, including the tuft of feathers on each side the breast and the belly to the 
white crissum, are sooty black, much varied along the middle line with white; 
the tibia and the edge of the wing are rufous ; the quills are black, becoming more 
plumbeous internally until the innermost secondaries are ashy, like the back; the 
elongated tips of the scapular feathers have a whitish shade; the tail is of a bluish- 
slate color; according to Mr. Audubon, the bill in life is yellow; dusky-green above; 
loral and orbital spaces light-green; iris yellow; feet olivaceous, paler above the 
tibio-tarsal joint; claws black. 

Young. The upper mandible is blackish; the lower yellow, except along the 
commissure; the head above is entirely dusky, without the much elongated occipital 
feathers; the breast is grayish, streaked with white and light-brown, but without 
any pure-black patches ; the back is without the elongated scapular feathers; in 
still younger specimens, the coverts are all margined with rufous, which becomes 
lighter at the tip ; the rufous of the tibia is much lighter. 

Length, forty-two inches ; wing, eighteen and fifty one-hundredths ; tarsus about 
six and fifty one-hundredths inches; bill about five and fifty one-hundredths 
inches. 

This, the largest of our New-England Herons, is pretty 
generally distributed throughout these States as a summei 
resident ; and, although not very abundant in any section, it 
is of course more often found in localities near large bodies of 
water than elsewhere. It arrives from the South about the 
second week in April, sometimes a little earlier. During 
the day, it seems to prefer the solitudes of the forest for 
its retreat, as it is usually seen in the meadows only at early 
morning, and in the latter part of the afternoon. It then, 
by the side of a ditch or pond, is observed patiently watching 
for its prey. It remains standing motionless until a fish or 
frog presents Itself, when, with an unerring stroke with its 
beak, as quick as lightning, it seizes, beats to pieces, and 
swallows it. This act is often repeated ; and, as the Heron 
varies this diet with meadow-mice, snakes, and insects, it 
certainly does not lead the life of misery and want that 
many writers ascribe to it. In fact, it is always plump and 
in good condition ; and by many is considered as a palatable 
bird on the table. 

* About the 10th of May, this species commences building : 
as with the other Herons, it breeds in communities, and 
several nests may be foiind in an area of a few rods. These 

26 



402 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

are placed in high forks of trees, generally in retired, almost 
impassable swamps. I once visited a heronry of this species 
in Erroll, N.H. It was in a deep swamp, which was inter- 
sected .by a small branch of the Androscoggin River. I 
think that I never penetrated a more villanous tract : every 
few rods a quagmire would present itself, which, although 
familiar to the persons who accompanied me, was generally 
unrecognizable by me, from any patches of green turf; and 
it was only by wading through mud and water, sometimes 
up to my waist, or by leaping from one fallen tree to another, 
through briers and brushwood, that I at last succeeded in 
arriving beneath the trees in which the nests were built. 
These were all dead hemlocks, white and smooth, without a 
branch for certainly forty feet, and unclimbable. We could 
see that the nests were nearly flat, and were constructed of 
twigs of different sizes, put together in a loose and slovenly 
manner. This was about the 25th of June : the young were, 
of course, then about two-thirds grown ; and, as I had heard 
that they were excellent eating, I emptied both the barrels 
of my gun into one of the nests, when down tumbled two 
" squab Herons," as they are called. We had them broiled 
for supper : they tasted something like duck, but had a 
strong flavor that was not pleasant. " I don't hanker after 
any more," as one of our company said after supper. The 
old birds, at the report of my gun, began flying over our 
heads, uttering their hoarse honks and guttural cries. They 
were careful to keep out of gunshot ; and, after flying back 
and forth a few minutes, they disappeared, and all was still. 
The eggs of this species are laid about the 15th or 20th of 
May : they are usually three or four in number, and their 
form is ovoidal. They are of a light bluish-green color, and 
average in dimensions about 2.62 by 1.75 inch. But one 
brood is reared in the season. 

This is one of the most suspicious of our birds, and 
the most difficult to be approached. It is constantly on the 
lookout for danger ; and its long neck, keen eyes, and deli- 



THE LEAST BITTERN. 403 

cate organs of hearing, enable it to detect the approach of 
a hunter long before he can get within gunshot. 

About the middle of October, it leaves New England, in 
small detached groups, for the South. 

ARDETTA, GRAY. 

Ardetta, GRAY, List of Genera, App. (1842), 13. (Type Ardea minuta, L.) 

Bill slender, acute ; both mandibles about equally curved ; legs very short ; tarsi 

less than middle toe; inner toe much longest; claws long, acute; tarsi broadly 

scutellate anteriorly. 

Tail of ten feathers; neck short; body much compressed; head smooth; the 

occipital leathers somewhat lengthened; the lower neck bare of feathers behind; no 

plumes; plumage compact, lustrous ; uniform above; sexes differently colored. 

ARDETTA EXILIS. Gray. 
The Least Bittern. 

Ardea exilis, Gmelin. Syst. Nat, I. (1788) 648. Wils. Am. Orn., VIII. (1814) 
37. Aud. Orn. Biog., III. (1835) 77; V. (1839) 606. 
Ardea (ardeola) exilis, Nuttall. Man., II. (1834) 66. 
Ardetta exilis, Gray. Gen. (1842). 

DESCRIPTION. 

Head above and the back dark glossy green; upper part of neck, shoulders, 
greater coverts, and outer webs of some tertials, purplish- cinnamon; a brownish- 
yellow scapular stripe. Female with the green of head and back replaced by 
purplish-chestnut; iris yellow. 

Length, thirteen inches; wing, four and seventy-five one-hundredths ; tarsus, 
one and sixty one-hundredths; bill, above, one and seventy-five one-hundredths 
inches. 

This, the smallest of our Ardeidae, is a rare summer 
inhabitant of New England. It is only seen in pairs or 
solitary individuals, and, unlike most of our birds in this 
family, seems persistently solitary in its habits. I have 
never met with an individual alive, and will give a short 
extract from the description by Audubon of its habits. He 
says, " Although the Least Bittern is not unfrequently 
started in salt marshes, it gives a decided preference to 
the borders of ponds, lakes, or bayous of fresh water ; and 
it is in secluded situations of this kind that it usually forms 
its nest. This is sometimes placed on the ground, amid the 



404 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

rankest grasses, but more frequently it is attached to the 
stems several inches above it. It is flat, and composed of 
dried or rotten weeds. In two instances, I found the nests 
of the Least Bittern about three feet above the ground, in a 
thick cluster of smilax and other briery plants. In the 
first, two nests were placed in the same bush, within a few 
yards of each other. In the other instance, there was only 
one nest of this bird, but several of the Boat-tailed Grakle, 
and one of the Green Heron, the occupants of all of which 
seemed to be on friendly terms. When startled from the 
nest, the old birds emit a few notes resembling the syllable 
qua, alight a few yards off, and watch all your movements. 
If you go towards them, you may sometimes take the female 
with the hand, but rarely the male, who generally flies off, 
or makes his way through the woods. 

" The food of this bird consists of snails, slugs, tadpoles 
or young frogs, and water lizards. In several instances, 
however, I have found small shrews and field-mice in their 
stomach. Although more nocturnal than diurnal, it moves 
a good deal about by day in search of food. The flight of 
this bird is apparently weak by day ; for then it seldom re- 
moves to a greater distance than a hundred yards at a time, 
and this, too, only when frightened in a moderate degree, 
for, if much alarmed, it falls again among the grass, in the 
manner of the Rail : but in the dusk of the evening and 
morning, I have seen it passing steadily along, at the height 
of fifty yards or more, with the neck retracted, and the legs 
stretched out behind in the manner of the larger Herons." 

The eggs of this species are usually four in number: 
they are nearly oval in form, and are of the size, arid almost 
exactly the form, of eggs of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, ex- 
cept with regard to color ; tfie present species being con- 
siderably paler. It has been found to breed in all the 
New-England States, but seems to be more of a southern 
species, and it is not abundant anywhere north of the 
southern portions of the Middle States. 



THE BITTERN. 405 



BOTAURUS, STEPHENS. 

Botaurus, STEPHENS, Shaw's Gen. Zool., XI. (1819) 592. (Type Ardea stel- 
laris, L.) 

Bill moderate, scarcely longer than the head ; bill outlines gently convex, gonys 
ascending; tarsi very short, less than the middle toe; broadly scutellate ; inner 
lateral toe much longest; claws all very long, acute, and nearly straight. 

Tail of ten feathers; no peculiar crest; plumage loose, opaque, streaked; sexes 
similar. 

BOTAURUS LENTIGINOSUS. Stephens. 
The Bittern ; Stake-driver. 

Botaurus lentiginosus, Stephens. Shaw's Gen. Zool., XI. (1819) 596. 

Ardea (botaurus) lentiginosa, Nuttall. Man., II. (1834) 60. 

Ardea mmor, Wilson. Am. Orn., VIII. (1814) 35. Aud. Orn. Biog., IV. (1838) 
296. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Brownish-yellow, finely mottled and varied with dark-brown and brownish-red ; a 

broad black stripe on each side the neck, starting behind the ear; iris golden yellow. 

' Length, twenty-six and fifty one-hundredths inches; wing, eleven; tarsus, three 

and sixty one-hundredths inches; bill, above, two and seventy-five one hundredths 

inches. 

Hob. Entire continent of North America. 

Perhaps none of our Herons are more generally known 
than this species ; for it is common in all New England as a 
summer resident, and in some localities, particularly the 
northern, is quite abundant. It arrives from the South 
from about the last week in March to the 10th of April, 
according to latitude, and remains in the meadows, where it 
makes its home until the middle of October. It seems to 
be more diurnal in its habits than most of our other Herons, 
and seems always employed in the pursuit of fishes, frogs, 
and other reptiles and insects, of which its food consists. 

It breeds in communities, sometimes as many as a dozen 
pairs nesting within the area of a few rods. The nests are 
placed on low bushes, or thick tufts of grass, sometimes in 
low, thickly wooded trees ; and are composed of coarse 
grasses, twigs, and a few leaves. I know of no other place 
in New England where these birds breed in such abun- 
dance as in the neighborhood of the Richardson Lakes, in 
Maine. There, in some of the tangled, boggy, almost im- 



406 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

penetrable swamps, these birds have several heronries, which 
they have inhabited for years. When their haunts are 
approached, the birds rise with a guttural note, like the 
syllable qudk, and alight in some tall tree, from which they 
silently watch the intruder. 

The eggs are usually four in number. Their form is 
generally ovoidal, and their color a rich drab, with some- 
times an olive tinge. I know of no species that exhibits so 
little variation in the size of its eggs as this ; for in a large 
number of specimens in my collection from half a dozen 
different States, east and west, the only variety of dimen- 
sions is from 1.92 by 1.50 inch to 1.88 by 1.48 inch. 

In the mating season, and during the first part of the 
period of incubation, the male has a peculiar love-note, that 
almost exactly resembles the stroke of a mallet on a stake ; 
something like the syllables ^chunk-a-lunk-chunk^ quank- 
chunk-a-lunk-chunk. I have often, when in the forests of 
Northern Maine, been deceived by this note into believing 
that some woodman or settler was in my neighborhood, 
and discovered my mistake only after toiling through swamp 
and morass for perhaps half a mile. But one brood is 
reared in the season by this bird in New England ; and, by 
the first week in August, the young are able to shift for 
themselves. 

BUTORIDES, BLYTH. 

Butorides, BLYTH (1849), Horsf. (Type Ardea Javanica.) 

Bill acute, rather longer than the head, gently curved from the base above ; 
gnnys slightly ascending; legs very short; tarsi scarcely longer than the middle 
toe; broadly scutellate anteriorly; lateral toes nearly equal; head with elongated 
feathers above and behind; these are well defined, lanceolate, as are the inter- 
scnpulars and scapulars; the latter not exceeding the tertials; neck short; bare 
behind inferiorly; tibia feathered nearly throughout; tail of twelve feathers. 

BUTORIDES VIRESCENS. Bonaparte. 
The Green Heron; Fly-up-the-Creek. 

Ardea virescens, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 238. Wils. Am. Orn., VII. 
(1813) 97. Aud. Orn. Biog., IV. (1838) 274. 
Ardea (botaurus) virescens. Nutt, II. (1834) 63. 
Butorides n'rescerw, Bonaparte. Consp. Av., II. (1855) 128. 



THE GREEN HERON. 407 

DESCRIPTION. 

"The Green Bittern is eighteen inches long, and twenty-five inches in extent; 
bill black, lighter below, and 3 r ellow at the base; chin, and narrow streak down the 
throat, yellowish-white; neck dark vinaceous-red ; back covered with very long, 
tapering, pointed feathers, of a hoary green, shafted with white, on a dark-green 
ground ; the hind part of the neck is destitute of plumage, that it may be the more 
conveniently drawn in over the breast, but is covered with the long feathers of the 
throat and sides of the neck that enclose it behind; wings and tail dark glossy 
green, tipped and bordered with yellowish-white ; legs and feet yellow, tinged before 
with green, the skin of these thick and movable; belly ashy-brown; irides bright- 
orange. 

" The crested head very dark glossy green. The female, as I have particularly 
observed in numerous instances, differs in nothing, as to color, from the male; 
neither of them receive the long feathers on the back during the first season." 
WILSON. 

The above description of this beautiful bird is so compre- 
hensive and accurate, that I cannot do better than to pre- 
sent it in this volume ; and the account of this bird's habits, 
by the same author, is so interesting and full, that, being 
unable to add to it any thing of value, I give it as below : 

" The Green Bittern makes its first appearance in Pennsylvania 
early -in April, soon after the marshes are completely thawed. 
There, among the stagnant ditches with which they are intersected, 
and amidst the bogs and quagmires, he hunts with great cunning 
and dexterity. Frogs and small fish are his principal game, whose 
caution and facility of escape require nice address and rapidity of 
attack. When on the lookout for small fish, he stands in the water, 
by the side of the ditch, silent and motionless as a statute ; his 
neck drawn in over his breast, ready for action. The instant a fry 
or minnow comes within the range of his bill, by a stroke, quick 
and sure as that of the rattlesnake, he seizes his prey, and swallows 
it in an instant. He searches for small crabs, and for the various 
worms and larvae, particularly those of the dragon-fly, which lurk 
in the mud, with equal adroitness. But the capturing of frogs 
requires much nicer management. These wary reptiles shrink into 
the mire on the least alarm, and do not raise up their heads again 
to the surface without the most cautious circumspection. The Bit- 
tern, fixing his penetrating eye on the spot where they disappeared, 
approaches with slow, stealing step, laying his feet so gently and 
silently on the ground as not to be heard or felt ; and, when arrived 
within reach, stands t fixed, and bending forwards, until the first 



408 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

glimpse of the frog's head makes its appearance, when, with a 
stroke instantaneous as lightning, he seizes it in his bill, beats it to 
death, and feasts on it at his leisure. 

" When alarmed, the Green Bittern rises with a hollow, guttural 
scream ; does not fly far, but usually alights on some old stump, 
tree, or fence adjoining, and looks about with extended neck; 
though, sometimes, this is drawn in so that his head seems to rest 
on his breast. As he walks along the fence, or stands gazing at 
you with outstretched neck, he has the frequent habit of jetting the 
tail. He sometimes flies high, with doubled neck, and legs 
extended behind, flapping the wings smartly, and travelling with 
great expedition. He is the least shy of all our Herons, and 
perhaps the most numerous and generally dispersed ; being found far 
in the interior, as well as along our salt marshes, and everywhere 
about the muddy shores of our mill-ponds, creeks, and large rivers. 

" The Green Bittern begins to build about the 20th of April : 
sometimes in single pairs, in swampy woods ; often in companies ; 
and not unfrequently in a kind of association with the Qua-birds, 
or Night Herons. The nest is fixed among the branches of the 
trees ; is constructed wholly of small sticks, lined with finer twigs ; 
and is of considerable size, though loosely put together. The female 
lays four eggs, of the common oblong form, and of a pale light-blue 
color. The young do not leave the nest until able to fly ; and, for 
the first season at least, are destitute of the long-pointed plumage 
on the back : the lower parts are also lighter, and the white on 
the throat broader. During the whole summer, and until late in 
autumn, these birds are seen in our meadows and marshes, but 
never remain during winter in any part of the United States." 

A large number of this bird's eggs, lying before me, 
exhibit a variation of only from 1.56 by 1.20 inch to 1.49 
by 1.15 inch in dimensions. But one brood is reared in 
the season ; and, by the 20th of September, the old and 
young leave New England for the South. 

NYCTIARDEA, SWAINSON. 

Nyctiardea, SWAINSON, Class. Birds, II. (1837) 354. (Type Ardea nycticorax, 
Linn.) 

Nycticorax, STEPHENS, Shaw's Gen. Zool., XI. (1819) 608. Same type. 



THE NIGHT HERON. 409 

Bill very stout; culmen curved from base; the lower outline straight, or a little 
concave ; end of upper mandible gently 'decurved ; tarsi short, equal to the middle 
toe; the scales more than usually hexagonal inferiorly; outer lateral toe rather 
longer; no unusual development of feathers, excepting a long, straight occipital 
plume of three feathers, rolled together; neck short, moderately feathered behind. 

The Night Herons, with a certain resemblance to the Bittern, differ in the much 
stouter and more curved bill, the lower edge of which is straight, instead of rising at 
the end ; the tarsus is equal to the middle toe, not shorter, and is covered anteriorly 
below by small hexagonal scales, instead of large transverse scutellae; the claws 
are much shorter and more curved; the tail has twelve feathers instead of ten. 



NYCTI ARDEA GARDENI. Baird. ' 
The Night Heron Qua-bird, 

Ardea nycticorax, Wilson. Am. On., VII. (1813) 101. Aud. Orn. Biog., III. 
(1835) 275; V. 600. 

Ardea (botaurus) discors, Nuttall. Man., II. (1834) 54. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Head above and middle of back steel-green; wings and tail ashy-blue ; under 
parts, forehead, and long occipital feathers white ; sides tinged with lilac. 

Bill very thick at the base, and tapering all the way to the tip. Culmen nearly 
straight for half its length, then considerably curved; lower outline of bill nearly 
straight; gonys proper slightly concave ; legs short, but stout; the tarsus equal to 
the middle toe ; covered throughout with hexagonal scales, the anterior largest, but 
those on the upper portion much larger, and going entirely across ; tibia bare for 
about one-fifth; lateral toes nearly equal; the outer rather longest; claws small; 
considerably curved ; tail short, of twelve broad, rather stiff feathers. 

Head with the occipital feathers elongated, and with two or three very long, 
straight feathers (as long as the bill and head) springing from the occiput. These 
are rolled up so as to appear like a single cylindrical feather; back of the neck 
covered with down, but not provided with long feathers ; interscapular feathers and 
scapulars elongated and lanceolate, the webs scarcely decomposed. 

The upper part of the head, including the upper eyelids, the occipital crest, and 
the interscapular region and scapulars, dark lustrous steel-green ; the wings and tail 
are ashy-blue; the under parts, the forehead, and the long occipital feathers, are 
white, passing into pale ashy-lilac on the sides and on the neck above; this color, in 
fact, tingeing nearly the whole under parts. The region along the base of the bill, 
however, is nearly pure, as are the tibia. The bill is black ; the loral space green ; 
the iris red ; the feet yellow ; the claws brown. 

Length, about twenty-five inches ; wing, twelve and fifty one-hundredths ; tar- 
sus, three and fifteen one-hundredths; bill, above, three and ten one-hundredths 
inches. 

Hab. United States generally. 

The Night Heron is pretty generally distributed through- 
out New England as a summer resident. It seems to pre- 
fer the neighborhood of the seacoast, but is found in many 



410 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

sections quite abundant in the interior ; as, for instance, Dr. 
Wood'says, " I know of a swamp some fourteen miles from 
here (East Windsor Hill, Conn.) where thousands breed." 
" I have counted eight nests on one maple-tree," &c. This 
species is most commonly found during the daytime perch- 
ing in high trees in swamps and thick woods, and seems to 
feed almost entirely by night. As soon as it begins to grow 
dark, it begins its flight ; and if we stand in a large meadow, 
qr by a pond or other sheet of water, we may sometimes 
hear the notes of several, as they are engaged in their 
search for prey. The call of this bird resembles the sylla- 
ble quack, which gives the bird the name of Squawk in 
many localities. The nest of this species is placed in a fork 
of a tree in a swamp : it is constructed of coarse twigs and 
leaves, and is v,ery loosely put together. As above remarked, 
several of these structures may be found on one tree; and, 
after the young are hatched, their noise, as they scream for 
food, is almost deafening. I once visited a heronry of this 
species in Dedham, Mass. As many as a hundred pairs 
were breeding in the area of an acre ; and, as Wilson truly 
says, " The noise of the old and young would almost induce 
one to suppose that two or three hundred Indians were 
choking or throttling each other." 

Another larger heronry that I visited last season in 
company with my friends, F. G. Sanborn and H. A. Purdie, 
occupied an area of several acres. The locality was a 
swamp, in which were growing cedar-trees. These were 
rarely over thirty feet in height ; but their dense and twin- 
ing branches were occupied often by the nests of two or 
three pairs in a single tree. The reader may judge as to the 
multitude of parent-birds that were flying in wild confusion 
over our heads, and may fancy the effect of all their guttural 
cries. We ascended to a number of the nests, and found 
them occupied by eggs, both freshly laid and others, far 
advanced in incubation, and chicks from one day old to 
some half grown. As the work of ascending to the filthy 



THE NIGHT HERON. 411 

nests was not of the pleasantest, we limited, our investiga- 
tions to the securing of a few of the most recently laid 
eggs. 

As my thoughts recall the occurrences of that day, num- 
bers of other pleasant excursions and campaigns that I 
have enjoyed with the gentlemen above named come back 
to me ; and I hope the time is not far distant when we three, 
with gun on shoulder and knapsack on our backs, may take 
another good long tramp together. 

The eggs of the Night Heron are laid about the 20th of 
May. They are usually four in number, and their general 
form is an elongated ovoidal. In a great number of speci- 
mens, the color is generally bluish-green, sometimes a light 
pea-green or greenish-yellow. Their dimensions vary from 
2.15 by 1.50 inch to 2.05 by 1.40 inch. About the latter 
part of August, the young birds are found in deep woods, 
and by many are esteemed as excellent eating, as they are 
plump and fat. They leave for the South early in October. 



412 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



SUB-ORDER GRALL^E. WADERS. 

Feathers of the head and neck extending over the entire cheeks to the bill ; bill, 
when much longer than head, slender at the base ; sometimes thick and shorter than 
the head; young running about and feeding themselves as soon as hatched. 

The preceding characteristics indicate, in a general way, the characteristics of 
the GralUe as distinguished from the Herodiones: they are usually much smaller 
birds, and more especially inhabitants of the open sandy shore. Few or none of the 
species nest on trees or bushes, the eggs being generally laid in a cavity scooped 
out in the sand. 

The sub-order is divided by Bonaparte into two tribes, Cursores and Alectorides 
(by Burmeister into Limicolce and Paludicolce) : the first having the hind toe elevated, 
small, or wanting; the second having it lengthened, and inserted on a level with the 
rest Additional characters are as follows: 

LIMICOLCE. Species living on the shore, and generally probing the ground or 
mud in search of food; bill and legs generally lengthened and slender; bill hard at 
tip, softer and more contracted at base ; anterior toes connected at base more or less 
^by membranes, and with very short claws; hind toe very short, elevated, or wanting; 
wings long, pointed ; outer primaries longest, and reaching to or beyond the tip of 
tail, which is stiff. 

PALUDICOL^S. Species living in marshy places among the grass, feeding from 
the surface of the ground ; bill hard to its base, where it is not contracted ; toes cleft 
to the base, lengthened, with very long claws; hind toe lengthened, and on same 
level with the rest; wing short, rounded, not reaching the tip of the soft tail; outer 
primaries graduated. 

Tribe LIMICOL^:. 

Birds living on the shore or in open places, usually small species, with rounded 
or depressed bodies, and slender bills of variable length, having a more or less dis- 
tinct horny terminal portion, the remainder covered with soft skin, in which are 
situated the elongated, narrow, open, and distinct nostrils; the feathers of the head 
are small, and extend compactly to the base of the bill ; they are similar in character 
to those of the neck and body ; the wings are long, acute, and, when folded, reach- 
ing to or beyond the tip of the tail ; the posterior or inner secondaries are generally 
as long as the outer primaries; the primaries are ten in number; the three outer 
longest and about equal; the tail is stiff, short, broad, and rounded or graduated ; 
the feathers usually twelve, sometimes more; the legs are slender and delicate, but 
corresponding with the bill in proportions; a large portion of the tibia below is bare 
of feathers; the covering of the legs is parchment-like, not horny, generally divided 
anteriorly and behind into small half rings, laterally more in hexagons ; the claws 
are delicate, sharp, and gently curved; the hind toe is very small, scarcely touching 
the ground; sometimes wanting; there is usually (except in Calidris, Tringa, &c.) 
a rather broad basal membrane between the outer and middle toes, sometimes 
between the inner and middle ; this web occasionally extends toward the ends of the 

toes. BUUMEISTER. 1 

1 See Introduction. 



THE GOLDEN PLOVER. 413 



FAMILY CHARADRIDJE. THE PLOVERS. 

Bill rather cylindrical, as long as the head, or shorter; the culmen much indented 
opposite the nostrils, the vaulted apex more or less swollen and rising, quite distinct 
from the membranous portion; legs elevated; hind toe rarely present, and then rudi- 
mentary ; the outer and middle toes more or less united by membrane. 



CHARADRIUS, LINNAEUS. 

Charadrius, LIXNJEUS, Syst. Nat. (1735). 

Plumage yellowish-gray, spotted ; tail transversely banded ; no collar on neck ; 
tarsi and lower thighs uniformly reticulated. 



CHARADRIUS VIRGINICUS. Borckausen. 
The Golden Plover; Bull-head. 

Charadrius pluvialis, Wilson. Am. Orn., VII. (1813) 71. Nutt. Man., II. (1834) 16. 
Aud. Orn. Biog., III. (1835) 623-. 

Charadrius Virginicus, " Borckausen and Bechstein." Licht. Verz. Doubl. (1823). 
Charadrius marmoratus, Audubon. Orn. Biog., V. (1839) 575. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill rather short ; legs moderate ; wings long ; no hind toe ; tarsus covered before 
and behind with small circular or hexagonal scales; upper parts brownish-black, 
with numerous small circular and irregular spots of golden-yellow, most numerous 
on the back and rump, and on the upper tail coverts, assuming the form of trans- 
verse bands generally; also with some spots of ashy-white; entire under parts 
black, with a brownish or bronzed lustre, under tail coverts mixed or barred with 
white; forehead, border of the black of the neck, under tail coverts, and tibiae, white; 
axillary feathers cinereous ; quills, dark-brown ; middle portion of the shafts white, 
frequently extending slightly to the webs, and forming longitudinal stripes on the 
shorter quills ; tail dark-brown, with numerous irregular bands of ashy-white, and 
frequently tinged with golden-yellow; bill black; legs dark bluish-brown. 

Younger. Under parts dull-ashy, spotted with brownish on the neck and 
breast, frequently more or less mixed with black ; many spots of the upper parts 
dull ashy-white; other spots, especially on the rump, golden-yellow. 

Total length, about nine and a half inches ; wing, seven inches ; tail, two and a 
half inches. 

Hob. All of North America, South America, Northern Asia, Europe. 

THIS beautiful and well-known bird passes through New 
England in the spring and fall migrations, but does not 
pause here, in either, longer than two or three days. It 
arrives from the South about the 25th of April or 1st of 
May, in small flocks of fifteen or twenty, and frequents the 



414 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

beach on the seashore and marshes in its neighborhood, 
where it feeds on small shell-fish and animalcules, and such 
seeds as it may find at that early season. It is, at this 
period, thin in flesh, but its plumage is perfect ; and it is 
more desirable for cabinet preservation then than in the 
fall. It is irregular in its visits in the spring migrations ; 
being quite plenty in some seasons, and in others quite rare. 
It passes to the most northern portions of the continent to 
breed ; none being found in the season of incubation in the 
limits of the United States. The flocks separate into pairs ; 
but they breed in small communities, two or three pairs 
being found in the area of an acre. The nest is nothing 
but a hollow in the grass or moss, on the open plain, 
scratched by the female: in this she deposits four eggs, 
which are oblong-pyriform in shape, of a creamy-buff color, 
sometimes with an olive tint; and are marked irregularly, 
chiefly at their larger end, with spots and confluent blotches 
of umber and obscure spots of lilac. In dimensions, they 
average about 2.10 by 1.40 incli. It is in the fall migra- 
tions that these birds are most actively pursued by sports- 
men. The great flight arrives about the 25th of August, 
sometimes a little earlier or later, if we have a driving 
north-east storm. The gunners make it a point to be on the 
plover grounds the last week in August and first week in 
September : if they get no plovers then, they usually aban- 
don the hunt for the season. In the fall of 1865, these 
birds did not alight in New England in any numbers, but 
were seen seven or eight miles out at sea, flying at a great 
height, in immense flocks, towards the South, and not a 
dozen birds were killed in localities where thousands are 
usually taken. When the flights are conducted during a 
storm, the birds fly low ; and the gunners, concealed in pits 
dug in the earth in the pastures and hills over which the 
flocks pass, with decoys made to imitate the birds, placed 
within gunshot of their hiding-places, decoy the passing 
flocks down within reach of their fowling-pieces, by imitat- 



THE KILL-DEER PLOVER. 415 

ing their peculiar whistle, and kill great numbers of them. 
I have known two sportsnjen to bag sixty dozen in two days' 
shooting; and instances are on record of still greater num- 
bers being secured. The flesh of this bird is very delicate 
and fine-flavored ; and the birds are in great demand in all 
our markets, bringing equally high prices with the favorite 
Woodcock. The Golden Plover feeds on grasshoppers, 
various insects, and berries, but is seldom found in the inte- 
rior of New England ; the pastures, fields, sandy hills, and 
dry islands near the seacoast, being its favorite resorts. 

^EGIALITIS, BOIE. 

^Egialitis, BOIE, Isis (1822), 558. (Type Charadrius hiaticula, L.) 
Plumage more or less uniform, without spots; neck and head generally with 
dark bands; front of the legs with plates arranged vertically, of which there are 
two or three in a transverse series. 

This genus, as far as North America is concerned, is distinguished from Chara- 
drius by the generally lighter color and greater uniformity of the plumage, by the 
absence of continuous black on the belly, and by the presence of dusky bands on 
theoieck or head ; the size is smaller ; the tarsi, in most species, have the front plates 
larger, and conspicuously different in this respect from the posterior ones. 



JEGIALITIS VOCIFERUS. Cassin. 
The Kill-deer Plover. 

Charadrius vociferus, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 253. Wils. Am. On., VII. 
(1813) 73. Nutt. Man., II. 22. Aud. Orn. Biog., III. (1835) 191; V. 577. lb., 
Syn., 222. lb., Birds Am., V. (1842) 207. 

uEgialtes vociferus, Bonaparte. List (1838). 

DESCRIPTION. 

Wings long, reaching to the end of the tail, which is also rather long; head above 
and upper parts of body light-brown with a greenish tinge ; rump and upper tail 
coverts rufous, lighter on the latter ; front and lines over and under the eye white ; 
another band of black in front above the white band; stripe from the base of the 
bill towards the occiput brownish-black; ring encircling the neck and wide band on 
the breast black; throat white, which color extends upwards around the neck; 
other under parts white ; quills brownish-black with about half of their inner webs 
white, shorter primaries with a large spot of white on their outer webs, secondaries 
widely tipped or edged with white ; tail feathers pale-rufous at base ; the four mid- 
dle light olive-brown tipped with white, and with a wide subterminal band of black ; 
lateral feathers widely tipped with white ; entire upper plumage frequently edged 



416 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

and tipped with rufous ; very young have upper parts light-gray, with a longitudinal 
band on the head and back, black; under parts white. 

Total length, about nine and a half inches; wing, six and a half inches; tail, 
three and a half inches. 

Hob. North America to the Arctic regions, Mexico, South America. 

This species is pretty generally distributed throughout 
New England as a summer resident. It is not common in 
any localities, but seems to be found in pairs all along our 
seacoast; and, although occasionally breeding in the inte- 
rior of these States, in the neighborhood of large tracts of 
water, it is almost exclusively found, during the greater 
part of the year, in moist fields and meadows and sandy 
pastures, within a few miles of the sea. Wilson describes 
its habits as follows : 

" This restless and noisy bird is known to almost every inhabi- 
tant of the United States, being a common and pretty constant 
resident. During the severity of the winter, when snow covers 
the ground, it retreats to the seashore, where it is found at all 
seasons ; but no sooner have the rivers opened, than its shrill 
note is again heard, either roaming about high in air, tracing the 
shore of the river, or running amidst the watery flats and meadows. 
As spring advances, it resorts to the newly ploughed fields, or level 
plains bare of grass, interspersed with shallow pools ; or, in the 
vicinity of the sea, dry, bare, sandy fields. In some such situation 
it generally chooses to breed, about the beginning of May. The 
nest is usually slight, a mere hollow, with such materials drawn in 
around it as happen to be near, such as bits of sticks, straw, peb- 
bles, or earth. In one instance, I found the nest of the bird 
paved with fragments of clam and oyster shells, and very neatly 
surrounded with a mound, or border, of the same, placed in a very 
close and curious manner. In some cases, there is no vestige 
whatever of a nest. The eggs are usually four, of a bright rich 
cream or yellowish-clay color, thickly marked with blotches of 
black. They are large for the size of the bird, measuring more 
than an inch and a half in length, and a full inch in width, taper- 
ing to a narrow point at the great end. 

"Nothing can exceed the. alarm and anxiety of these birds 
during the breeding season. Their cries of kill-deer, kill-deer, as 



THE KILL-DEER PLOVER. 417 

they winnow the air overhead, dive and course around you, or run 
along the ground counterfeiting lameness, are shrill and incessant. 
The moment they see a person approach, they fly or run to attack 
him with their harassing clamor, continuing it over so wide an 
extent of ground, that they puzzle the pursuer as to the particular 
spot where the nest or young are concealed ; very much resem- 
bling, in this respect, the Lapwing of Europe. During the even- 
ing, and long after dusk, particularly in moonlight, their cries are 
frequently heard with equal violence, both in the spring and fall. 
From this circumstance, and their flying about both after dusk and 
before dawn, it appears probable that they see better at such times 
than most of their tribe. They are known to feed much on worms, 
and many of these rise to the surface during the night. The 
prowling of Owls may also alarm their fears for their young at 
those hours ; but, whatever may be the cause, the facts are so. 

" The Kill-deer is more abundant in the Southern States in win- 
ter than in summer. Among the rice-fields, and even around the 
planters' yards, in South Carolina, I observed them very numerous 
in the months of February and March. There the negro boys fre- 
quently practise the barbarous mode of catching them with a line, 
at the extremity of which is a crooked pin, with a worm on it. 
Their flight is something like that of the Tern, but more vigorous ; 
and they sometimes rise to a great height in the air. They 
are fond of wading in pools of water, and frequently bathe them- 
selves during the summer. They usually stand erect on their legs, 
and run or walk with the body in a stiff, horizontal position : they 
run with great swiftness, and are also strong and vigorous in the 
wings. Their flesh is eaten by some, but is not in general esteem ; 
though others say, that, in the fall, when they become very fat, it 
is excellent. 

" During the extreme droughts of summer, these birds resort to 
the gravelly channel of brooks and shallow streams, where they can 
wade about in search of aquatic insects : at the close of summer, 
they generally descend to the seashore in small flocks, seldom more 
than ten or twelve being seen together. They are then more serene 
and silent, as well as difficult to be approached. 

The eggs of this species are four in number. They are 
oblong-pyriforin in shape, creamy-buff in color, with numer- 

27 



418 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

ous spots and blotches of dark-brown, chiefly at their greater 
end. They vary in dimensions from 1.65 by 1.10 inch to 
1.50 by 1.08 inch ; but one brood is reared in the season. 

2EGIALITIS WILSONIUS. (Ord.) Cassin. 
Wilson's Plover; Ring-neck. 

Charadrius Wilsonius, Ord. Ed. Wils. Orn., IV. (1825) 77. Nutt. Man., II. 
(-1834) 21. Aud. Orn. Biog., III. (1835) 73; V. (1839) 577. /&., Birds Am., V. 

(1842) 214. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Smaller than the preceding; bill rather long and robust. 

Male. Front, and stripe over the eye, and entire under parts, white; front with 
a second band of black above the white band ; stripe from the base of the bill to the 
eye and wide transverse band on the breast, brownish-black ; upper parts of head 
and body light ashy-brown, with the feathers frequently edged and tipped with pale- 
ashy ; back of the neck encircled with a ring of white, edged above with fine light- 
reddish ; quills brown, with white shafts ; shorter coverts tipped with white ; outer 
feathers of the tail white, middle feathers dark-brown ; bill black ; legs yellow. 

Female. Without the band of black in front, and with the pectoral band dull- 
reddish and light ashy-brown; iris reddish-brown. 

Total length, seven and three quarter inches; wing, four and a half inches; tail, 
two inches. 

Hab. Middle and Southern States on the Atlantic, and the same coast of South 
America. 

This species is found in New England only as a somewhat 
rare visitor in the autumn, after it has reared its young in a 
more southern locality. I think that it seldom passes north 
of the southern coast of Cape Cod; but it is there occa- 
sionally seen in the early part of September, gleaning its 
food of animalculae and small shell-fish and insects on the 
sandy beach of the ocean. 

The Wilson's Plover is more southern in its habits than 
either of the succeeding species ; but it breeds abundantly 
on the seacoast of New Jersey. The nest is nothing but a 
hollow scratched in the sand, above high-water mark, with 
a few bits of seaweed or grass for its lining. The eggs are 
laid about the first week in June. They are, like those 
of the other Waders, pyriform in shape ; and, when placed 
in the nest, their small ends are together in the middle of 
the nest. They almost exactly resemble the eggs of the 



THE SEMIPALMATED PLOYER. 419 

Kill-deer Plover, but are some little smaller ; varying in 
dimensions from 1.40 by 1.05 to 1.34 by 1.02 inch. The 
spots and markings are similar to those of the other, but 
are less thickly distributed: some specimens have obscure 
spots of purple and lilac, and the brown spots vary from 
quite blackish to the color of raw-umber. 

JEGIALITIS SEMIPALMATUS. (Bon.) Cabanis. 
The Semipalmated Plover; Ring-neck. 

Charadrius semipalmatus, Nuttall. Man., II. 24. Aud. Orn. Biog., IV. (1838) 
256; V. 579. lb., Birds Am., V. (1842) 218. 
^Egialtes svmipalmata, Bonaparte. List (1838). 
jEgialitis semipalmatus, Cabanis. Cab Journ. (1856), 425. 
Tringa hiaticula, Wilson. Am. Orn., VII. (1813) 65. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Small; wings long; toes connected at base, especially the outer to the middle 
toe; front, throat, ring around the neck, and entire under parts, white; a band of 
deep-black across the breast, extending around the back of the neck below the white 
ring; band from the base of the bill, under the eye, and wide frontal band above 
the white band, black; upper parts light ashy-brown, with a tinge of olive; quills 
brownish-black, with their shafts white in a middle portion, and occasionally a lan- 
ceolate white spot along the shafts of the shorter primaries ; shorter tertiaries edged 
with white; lesser coverts tipped with white; middle feathers of the tail ashy olive- 
brown, with a wide subterminal band of brownish-black, and narrowly tipped with 
white; two outer tail feathers white, others intermediate, like the middle, but widely 
tipped with white; bill orange-yellow, tipped with black; legs yellow. Female simi- 
lar, but rather lighter-colored. Young without the black band in front, and with 
the band across the breast ashy-brown; iris, dark-hazel. 

Total length, about seven inches; wing, four and three-quarters inches; tail, two 
and a quarter inches. 

Hob. The whole of temperate North America ; common on the Atlantic. 

This pretty and well-known species is abundant in New 
England in the spring and fall migrations. It arrives from 
the South by the latter part of April, in small flocks of 
eight or ten individuals ; some following the course of large 
rivers, like the Connecticut ; others haunting the shores of 
large ponds and meadows ; but the greater number follow- 
ing the seacoast, where they feed, like the others of this 
genus, on small crustaceans, shell-fish, and the eggs of fish 
and other marine animals. 



420 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

Although I found a single pair with their nest on the 
island of Muskegeet, Mass., in June, 1866, this bird gener- 
ally breeds in the most northern parts of the continent. 
Audubon, in describing its breeding habits, says, 

" As soon as one of us was noticed by a Ring Plover, it would 
at once stand still, and become silent. If we did the same, it 
continued, and seldom failed to wear out our patience. If we 
advanced, it would lower itself, and squat on the moss or bare rock 
until approached, when it would suddenly rise on its feet, droop its 
wings, depress its head, and run with great speed to a considerable 
distance ; uttering, all the while, a low rolling and querulous cry, 
very pleasing to the ear. On being surprised when in charge of 
their young, they would open their wings to the full extent, and 
beat the ground with their extremities, as if unable to rise. If 
pursued, they allowed us to come within a few feet, then took flight, 
and attempted to decoy us away from their young, which lay so 
close that we very seldom discovered them ; but which, on being 
traced, ran swiftly off, uttering a plaintive peep, often repeated, 
that never failed to bring their parents to their aid. At Labrador, 
the Ring Plover begins to breed in the beginning of June. Like 
the Piping Plover, it forms no nest ; but, whilst the latter scoops a 
place in the sand for its eggs, the Ring Plover forms a similar 
cavity in the moss, in a place sheltered from the north winds, and 
exposed to the full rays of the sun, usually near the margins of 
small ponds formed by the melting of the snow, and surrounded by 
short grass. The eggs, like those of all the family, are four, and 
placed with the small ends together. They are broad at the larger 
end, rather sharp at the other ; measure 1 inch in length, 1 
inches in their greatest breadth; are of a dull-yellowish color, 
irregularly blotched and spotted all over with dark-brown of dif- 
ferent tints." 

Early in September, sometimes by the 20th of August, 
small flocks of these birds appear in New England, and 
they remain here as late as the first week in October : they 
are now fat and delicate, and are esteemed excellent for the 
table. 



THE PIPING PLOVER. 421 



MELODUS. (Ord.) Cabanis. 
The Piping Plover. 

Charadrius melodus, Nuttall. Man., II. 18. Aud. Orn. Biog., III. (1835) 154; 
V. 578. 

^Egialtes melodus, Bonaparte. List (1838). 
jEgialitis melodw, Cabanis. Jour. (1856), 424. 
Charadrius hiaticula. Wils. Am. Orn., V. (1812) 30. 

DESCRIPTION. 

About the size of the preceding ; bill short, strong. 

Adult. Forehead, ring around the back of the neck, and entire under parts, 
white, a band of black in front above the band of white ; band encircling the neck 
before and behind black, immediately below the ring of white on the neck behind; 
head above, and upper parts of body, light brownish-cinereous ; rump and upper tail 
coverts lighter, and often nearly white ; quills dark-brown, with a large portion of 
their inner webs and shafts white ; shorter primaries with a large portion of their 
outer webs white ; tail at base white, and with the outer feathers white ; middle 
feathers with a wide subterminal band of brownish-black, and tipped with white; 
bill orange at base, tipped with black; legs orange-yellow. 

Female. Similar to the male, but with the dark colors lighter and less in extent. 

Young. No black band in front; collar around the back of the neck ashy- 
brown; iris brown. 

Total length, about seven inches; wing, four and a half inches; tail, two inches. 

Hab. Eastern coast of North America ; Nebraska (Lieut. Warren); Louisiana 
(Mr. G. Wurdemann). 

This pretty and well-known species is pretty abundantly 
distributed along the coast of New England as a summer 
resident. It arrives from the South about the 20th of April 
in small flocks, and soon selects its breeding-residence on 
some tract of ocean beach ; dividing, early in May, into pairs, 
which, however, associate somewhat together through the 
whole season. It occasionally penetrates into the interior, 
and has been known to breed on the borders of a pond 
twenty miles from the seaboard ; but generally, in New Eng- 
land, it seldom wanders far from the shore, where it is one 
of the most beautiful and interesting of our Waders. 

It seems to prefer sandy islands a short distance from the 
main land for its breeding-place. I have found numbers 
breeding on the island of Muskegeet, off the southern coast 
of Massachusetts, and have found it on many others of our 
islands of similar character. 



422 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

The nest is nothing but a hollow in the sand scraped by 
the female bird : it sometimes has a slight lining of pieces 
of grass or seaweed ; but usually the eggs are deposited on 
the bare sand. These are four in number, abruptly pyri- 
form in shape, and a beautiful light creamy-buff in color, 
with thinly scattered spots of black and brown, and some- 
times a few obscure spots of lilac. They average smaller in 
size than either of the preceding, varying from 1.30 by 1 inch 
to 1.20 by .95 inch in dimensions. They do not resemble 
the others, being much more finely marked ; and their small 
ends are more rounded. 

The breeding habits and general characteristics of this 
so much resemble those of the preceding species that the 
same remarks will apply to both. 

SQUATAROLA, CUVIER. 

Squatarola, CUVIER, Regne Anim., I. (1817). (Type Tringa squatarola, Linn.) 
A rudimentary hind toe ; legs reticulated, with elongated hexagons anteriorly, of 

which there are five or six in a transverse row ; fewer behind ; first primary longest ; 

tail slightly rounded. 

SQUATAROLA HELVETICA. Cuvier. 
The Black-bellied Plover. 

Tringa helvetica, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 250. 
Squatarola helvetica. Cuvier, R. A., (1817). 

Charadrius helveticus, Audubon. Orn. Biog., IV. (1838) 280. lb., Birds Amer., 
V. (1742)199. 

Charadrius apricarius, Wilson. Am. Orn., VII. (1813) 41. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill and legs strong; wings long; a very small rudimentary hind toe; around the 
base of the bill to the eyes, neck before and under parts of body, black ; upper 
white, nearly pure and unspotted on the forehead ; sides of the neck and rump tinged 
with ashy, and having irregular transverse bars of brownish-black on the back, 
scapulars, and wing coverts; the brownish-black frequently predominating on those 
parts, and the rump also frequently with transverse bars of the same ; lower part of 
the abdomen, tibia, and under tail coverts, white; quills brownish-black, lighter on 
their inner webs, with a middle portion of their shafts white, and a narrow longi- 
tudinal stripe of white frequently on the shorter primaries and secondaries; tail 
white, with transverse imperfect narrow bands of black; bill and legs black; the 
black color of the under parts generally with a bronzed or coppery lustre, and pre- 



THE BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER. 423 

senting a scale-like appearance; the brownish-black of the upper parts with a 
greenish lustre. 

Younger and winter plumage. Entire upper parts dark-brown, with circular 
and irregular small spots of white, and frequently of yellow, most numerous on 
the wing coverts ; upper tail coverts white ; under parts white, with short longi- 
tudinal lines and spots dark brownish-cinereous on the neck and breast; quills brown- 
ish-black, with large longitudinal spots of white on their inner webs, and also on the 
outer webs of the shorter primaries. 

Young. Upper parts lighter, and with the white spots more irregular or 
scarcely assuming a circular shape; narrow lines on the neck and breast more 
numerous; iris black. 

Total length, about eleven and a half inches; wings, seven and a half inches; 
tail, three inches. 

Hob. All of North America. The seacoasts of nearly all countries of the 
world. 

This beautiful bird is almost of the same habits and 
characteristics as the Golden Plover described on a preced- 
ing page. It arrives and departs at nearly the same time 
in spring, and, like that species, breeds in the most northern 
sections of the continent. Wilson, in speaking of its breed- 
ing in Pennsylvania, says, 

" This bird is known in some parts of the country by the name 
of the Large Whistling Field Plover. It generally makes its first 
appearance in Pennsylvania late in April ; frequents the countries 
towards the mountains ; seems particularly attached to newly 
ploughed fields, where it forms its nest of a few slight materials, as 
slightly put together. The female lays four eggs, large for the 
size of the bird, of a light-olive color, dashed with black, and has 
frequently two broods in the same season. It is an extremely shy 
and watchful bird, though clamorous during breeding-time." 

About the 10th or 15th of September, or a fortnight later 
than the Golden Plover, it returns on its southern migra- 
tion ; and the same means are employed for its destruc- 
tion as for that bird : these birds are called by the gunners 
by the name of Beetle-heads, and are esteemed as being 
nearly as palatable and delicate as the other species. 



424 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



FAMILY PHALAROPODID^. THE PHALAROPES. 

Feathers of breast compact, duck-like; legs with transverse scutellse before and 
behind; toes to the tips with a lateral margin, more or less indented at the joints, 
the hinder with a feeble lobe; bill equal to or longer than the head, the lateral groove 
extending nearly to the tip. 



PHALAROPUS, BRISSON. 
Membrane of toes scolloped at the joints. 

PHALAROPUS HYPERBOREUS. Temm. 
The Northern Phalarope. 

Tringa hyperborea, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 249. 

Phalaropus hyperboreus, Temm. Man., II. (1820) 709. Aud. Orn. Biog., III. 
(1835)118; V. 595. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill short, straight, pointed ; wings long ; tail short ; legs short. 

Adult. Neck encircled with a ring of bright-ferruginous, and a stripe of the 
same on each side; head above and neck behind sooty-ash; back, wings, and tail, 
brownish-black, paler on the rump, mixed with bright-ferruginous on the back; tips 
of greater wing coverts white ; sides and flanks ash}'-, frequently mixed with red- 
dish ; throat, breast, and abdomen white ; bill and legs dark ; iris dark-brown. 

Young. Entire upper parts brownish-black ; many feathers edged and tipped 
with dull yellow and ashy ; under parts white ; tips of greater wing coverts white. 

Total length, about seven inches ; wing, four and half; tail, two and a quarter ; 
bill, one; tarsus, three-fourths of an inch. 

THE Northern Phalarope is rarely found on the seacoast 
of New England in the spring and autumn migrations ; 
appearing in the former about the 10th of May, and in the 
latter about the 25th of August. The migrations are per- 
formed by the birds in small flocks out at sea ; and it is only 
when they are driven into shore by heavy winds and storms 
that they are found here, and then scarcely more than two or 
three birds are taken in a season. This species is equally a 
swimmer and wader. When on the water, it has the appear- 
ance of a small Gull or Tern, swimming with great elegance 



THE NORTHERN PHALAROPE. 425 

and ease, frequently dipping its bill into the water to secure 
a small marine animal or fly. Its motions are so graceful 
when thus employed, that the bird has been compared to a 
swan ; and all writers agree that it is one of the most beauti- 
ful of our aquatic birds. 

On the shore, it frequents small pools or ponds of water, 
near the coast, in which it wades and swims with equal 
facility ; frequently uttering a shrill cry similar to the sylla- 
bles creet cree teet. It is said that the same pairs are faith- 
ful to each other for successive seasons. I know not how 
true this maybe; but it seems not improbable, from the 
fact, that, in their winter homes on the shores of the Gulf 
of Mexico, they are most often seen in small parties of three 
or four, often by pairs. This species breeds in the most 
northern sections of the continent. It builds its nest about 
the first week in June, in the Hudson's Bay country : this 
is constructed of a few pieces of grass and moss, put loosely 
together, and placed in a tussock of grass or moss. The 
eggs are usually four in number. They vary in color from a 
brownish-drab to light-olive, and are thickly covered with 
large blotches and spots of dark umber : their form is abrupt- 
ly pyriform, and their dimensions vary from 1.12 by 1.02 
to 1.06 by .98 inch. 



426 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



FAMILY SCOLOPACIDJE. THE SNIPES. 

Legs with transverse scutellae before and behind; toes not margined broadly to 
the tips, with or without basal membrane; hind toe generally present; bill generally 
longer than the head, the groove extending beyond the middle. 



Sub-Family SCOLOPACIN^:. 

Bill swollen at the end, and covered almost to the tip with a soft skin, the edges 
only of the rather vaulted tip horny; the end of the upper bill generally bent a 
little over the tip of lower; the jaw-bone in typical genera finely porous, and per- 
forated by vessels and nerves, imparting a high degree of sensibility to the bill, 
enabling it to find food in the mud; after death, the end of bill is usually pitted; 
legs rather stout; the naked portion of the tibia much abbreviated; the hind toe 
well developed and generally present; the toes usually without basal membrane 
(except in Macrorhamphus, &c.). 



PHILOHELA, G. R. GRAY. 

Philohela, GRAY, List of Genera (1841). Gmelin. (Type Scolopax minor.) 
Body very full, and head, bill, and eyes very large; tibia short, feathered to the 
joint; toes cleft to base; wings short, rounded; first three primaries very narrow, 
and much attenuated ; the fourth and fifth equal and longest; tarsi stout, shorter 
than the middle toe ; hind nail very short, conical, not extending beyond the toe ; 
tail of twelve feathers. 

The present genus, embracing a single species, the American Woodcock, is much 
like Scolopax, with the European Woodcock as type, in color and external appear- 
ance. The most striking difference is seen in the wing-*, which are short, rounded, 
the fourth and fifth primaries longest, and the outer three attenuated; while in Scolo- 
pax the wings are long, the first primary longest and more attenuated. 

PHILOHELA MINOE. Gray. 
The American Woodcock. 

Scolopax minor, Wilson. Am. Orti., VI. (1812) 40. Aud. Orn. Biog., III. (1835) 
474. 

Jlmticola minor, Nuttall. Man., II. (1834) 194. 

Swlopax (microptera) minor, Nuttall. Man., II. (1834) 194. 

Philohela minor, Gray. List Genera (1841). 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill long, compressed, punctulated and corrugated near the end ; upper mandible 
longer than the under, and fitted to it at the tip; wings moderate, three first quills 
very narrow; tail short; legs moderate; eyes inserted unusually distant from the 



THE AMERICAN WOODCOCK. 427 

bill ; occiput with three transverse bands of black, alternating with three others of 
pale yellowish-rufous ; upper parts of body variegated with pale-ashy, rufous, or 
yellowish-red of various shades, and black; large space in front, and throat, reddish- 
ashy ; line from the eye to the bill, and another on the neck below the eve, brownish- 
black; entire under parts pale-rufous, brighter on the sides and under wing coverts; 
quills ashy-brown; tail feathers brownish-black, tipped with ashy, darker on the 
upper surface, paler and frequently white on the under ; bill light-brown, paler and 
yellowish at base ; legs pale-reddish ; iris brown. 

Total length, about eleven inches; wing, five and a quarter; tail, two and a 
quarter; bill, two and a quarter; tarsus, one and a quarter inches. 

Hab. Eastern North America. 



THE Woodcock is a common summer inhabitant of the 
three southern New-England States, and is not rare in 
most sections of the others. It is one of the earliest of our 
spring arrivals ; appearing by the 10th of March, and some- 
times much earlier, even before the 25th of February. 
When it first arrives, it is partially gregarious ; being found 
in small companies of four or five, in the area of a few 
rods. It frequents low swampy woods and thickets at this 
season, where, during the day, it remains concealed, only 
moving about, in its search for food, in the night. 

It begins its nocturnal rambles by early twilight, and only 
retires to its swamp at daybreak. If we stand, in the even- 
ing, in the neighborhood of a swamp, or low tract of woods, 
we sometimes hear two or three individuals moving about 
in the undergrowth, uttering their note, chip-per, chip-per 
chip, sometimes varying it to bleat or bleat ta bleat ta; or 
see them, against the evening sky, flying rapidly from one 
swamp to another. About the first week in April, after 
separating into pairs, the Woodcocks begin their duties of 
incubation : the female scratches together a few leaves, on 
a slight elevation in some meadow or swamp, and this forms 
the nest. I have noticed that the locality most often selected 
is in a small bunch of bushes, or small birches or alders, 'in 
the midst of a meadow. The eggs are three or four in num- 
ber : their ground -color is usually a rich creamy-drab, 
sometimes with a slightly olive tint ; and they are marked, 
more or less thickly, with coarse and fine spots and blotches 



428 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

of two shades of brown, and obscure spots of lilac. They 
are less pyriform than the eggs of any other birds in this 
group, being often almost exactly ovoidal. They exhibit 
great variations in size, some specimens from Bristol County, 
Massachusetts, averaging 1.80 by 1.25 ; and others, from 
the south and west, averaging only 1.45 by 1.15 ; others 
from. Western Massachusetts average about 1.50 by 1.20, 
being nearly rounded; and one from J. P. Norris, found 
in Chester County, Pennsylvania, is abruptly pyriform, being 
in dimensions 1.45 by 1.20 inch. 

Both birds assist in incubation ; and they are so unwilling 
to leave the nest at this time, that I have known of an ox- 
team being driven within a foot of a bird, without starting 
her from the nest. The food of the Woodcock consists of 
worms and animalculae, which it secures by thrusting its bill 
into the soft earth, and beneath the dead leaves and grass 
iii swamps and other wet places. 

The tongue of the bird is coated with a thick saliva ; and 
the worms sticking to it are drawn out and devoured. The 
holes where the bill is thus thrust in the earth are called, 
by gunners, " borings ; " and the presence of the bird is 
detected by them, as none of our wood-birds make any simi- 
lar. The old bird, if shot in the summer, when she has 
young, often has her mouth full of small worms ; and this 
proves that she feeds her chicks until they are nearly full 
grown. The flight of the Woodcock is rapid, and always is 
accompanied by a sharp twitter. When the bird is flushed, 
it ascends quickly to the height of the trees ; and, after 
hovering a few seconds, it alights on the ground, within a 
few rods of the point from which it first flew. 

In the latter part of July, and during the month of 
August, while the birds are moulting, they retire to the 
most secluded localities ; and it is difficult to find them 
at that season. In September, during the continuance of 
dry weather, they frequent cornfields and ditches; and I 
have seen them searching for worms in the mud in a sink- 



429 

spout, within a few yards of a house. At the latter part of 
September, and during October, they are in their prime ; 
and I know of no more exciting sport, and one that is so 
generally satisfactory, than fall Woodcock hunting. By 
the 10th of November, none of these birds are to be found 
in New England. 

GALLINAGO, LEACH. 

GaUinago, " LEACH, Catal. British Birds (1816)." Gray. (Type Scolopax 
major, L.) 

Lower portion of the tibia bare of feathers, scutellate before and behind, reticu- 
lated laterally like the tarsi ; nail of hind toe slender, extending beyond the toe ; 
bill depressed at the tip ; middle toe longer than tarsus ; tail with twelve to sixteen 
feathers. 

The more slender body, longer legs, partly naked tibia, and other features, dis- 
tinguish this genus from Scolopax or Philohela. 

GALLINAGO WILSONII. Bonaparte. 
The Snipe ; Wilson's Snipe ; English Snipe. 

Scolopax Wilsonii, Nuttall. Man., II. 185. Aud. Orn. Biog., III. (1835)322; 
V. (1839) 583. 76., Birds Amer., V. (1842) 339. 
G'allinago Wilsonti, Bonaparte. List (1838). 
Scolopax gallinago, Wilson. Am. Orn., VI. (1812) 18. Not of Linnaeus. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill long, compressed, flattened, and slightly expanded towards the tip, pustu- 
lated in its terminal half; wings rather long; legs moderate; tail short; entire upper 
parts brownish-black; every feather spotted and widely edged with light-rufous, 
yellowish-brown, or ashy-white; back and rump transversely barred and spotted 
with the same; a line from the base of the bill over the top of the head; throat and 
neck before, dull reddish-ashy; wing feather marked with dull brownish-black; 
other under parts white, with transverse bars of brownish-black on the sides, axil- 
lary feathers and under wing coverts and under tail coverts; quills brownish-black; 
outer edge of first primary white ; tail glossy brownish-black, widely tipped with 
bright-rufous, paler at the tip, and with a subterminal narrow band of black ; outer 
feathers of tail paler, frequently nearly white, and barred with black throughout 
their length; bill brown, yellowish at base, and darker towards the end; legs dark- 
brown; iris hazel. 

Total length, about ten and a half inches; wing, five; tail, two and a quarter; 
bill, two and a half; tarsus, one and a quarter inch. 

Hab. Entire temperate regions of North America ; California (Mr. Szabo). 

The Snipe is equally well known, and as great a favorite 
with sportsmen, as the preceding species. It arrives from 



430 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

the South at about the same time, and has many of the 
habits and characteristics of the other bird. It is found 
in New England only as a spring and autumn visitor, 
very rarely breeding here, but passing the season of incuba- 
tion in higher latitudes. It frequents the fresh-water 
meadows, where it usually lies concealed during the day, 
only moving about in dark weather and in the night. In. 
the spring, while with us, it appears to be pairing ; and, 
although associating in small detached flocks, they are most 
often found in pairs by themselves. It is during this 
season that the male performs his well-known gyrations in 
the air : he ascends to a considerable height, early in the 
evening, and, almost in the manner of the Night-hawk, 
described on a preceding page, dives towards the earth, 
uttering his bleating cry, and peculiar rumbling sound. 
This species breeds sometimes in the northern portions of 
New England. It forms a loose nest of grass and a few 
leaves, on the ground, in a bog or wet swampy thicket ; 
and, about the first week in May, the female lays three or 
four eggs. These are more pyriform in shape than the pre- 
ceding, and average about 1.44 by 1.15 inch in dimensions. 
Their color is an olivaceous-drab, marked with spots of 
brown, which are, at the greater end, confluent into blotches, 
which almost entirely hide the ground-color. 

The Snipe has been known to breed in Massachusetts ; 
but the occurrence is very rare, and can be regarded only 
as accidental. By the 25th of August, it returns to the 
meadows of New England in small parties of three or four ; 
but it is not abundant much before the 10th or 15th of Sep- 
tember, and then is not found in great numbers, unless 
we have had two or three sharp frosts. The time when 
sportsmen most expect to find them in numbers is after a 
north-easterly storm, when the wind veers around to the 
south-westward. Then the meadows are hunted diligently, 
and generally with success. I have bagged twenty-four 
birds in an afternoon's shooting, within ten miles of Boston, 



WILSON'S SNIPE. 431 

and have known that number to be exceeded in favorable 
weather. The Snipe lies close to the ground when ap- 
proached ; and, being a bird of strong scent, as the expres- 
sion is, is winded to a considerable distance by a good dog. 
It is easy to imagine the excitement the sportsman experi- 
ences, when, with a good dog, he enters a large meadow, 
and sees him suddenly come to a point ; when, walking up 
to the Snipe, and flushing it, the report of his gun, as he 
shoots the bird, startles from their lurking-places perhaps 
a dozen others, who fly but a short distance, uttering their 
peculiar squeak or scalp, and then alight in the grass, prom- 
ising him an abundance of shooting for the day. 

The Snipe, when first flushed, rapidly doubles and twists 
in a quick, zigzag flight, which it continues for several rods, 
when it takes a more direct course, almost always against 
the wind. The sportsman, knowing this habit of the bird, 
reserves his fire until it has stopped twisting, when his aim 
is generally successful. Sometimes two birds rise at the 
same time, when it requires considerable coolness and expe- 
rience to secure both. I once got three double shots in 
succession, securing all six birds : but such an occurrence 
and good luck are rare ; and we must be satisfied, in most 
shooting, to get but single birds. 

The Snipe, like the Woodcock, probes in the soft earth 
for worms and animalcules, which it feeds upon : it also 
eats the larvae of water-insects, and leeches, and occa- 
sionally captures grasshoppers and other insects in the wet 
grass in which it almost entirely resides. It is very diffi- 
cult of approach in cloudy and windy weather ; but, in 
warm, bright days in the fall, it is quiet, and lies until 
approached quite near. It remains with us until the 
ground is frozen in the meadow, when it moves to the 
Southern States, where it passes the winter. 



432 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



FAMILY HJEMATOPODIDJE. THE OYSTER-CATCHERS. 

Bill as long as the head, or twice as long, compressed; culmen but little 
indented, and the bill not vaulted beyond the nostrils, which are quite basal. 



ILEMATOPUS, LINNAEUS. 

Hcematopus, LINN^US, Sypt. Nat. (1735). (Type H. Ostralegus, L.) 
Bill longer than the leg, twice as long as the head; mandibles much compressed, 
sharp-edged, and truncate at end; hind toe wanting; legs reticulated, with five or 
six elongated plates in a transverse series ; meshes larger anteriorly ; a basal mem- 
brane between middle and outer toes; toes enlarged laterally by a thickened 
membrane; tail even; first primary longest. 



HJEMATOPUS PALLIATUS. Temm. 
The Oyster-catcher- 

Hosmatapus palliatus, Temm. Man., II. (1820) 532. Aud. Orn. Biog., III. 
(1835) 181; V. 580. 7J., Birds Am., V. (1842) 236. 

Hcematopus ostrakgus, Wilson. Am. Orn., VIII. (1814) 15. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill long, straight, flattened vertically; wing long; tail short; legs moderate, 
rather robust; toes margined; outer and middle united at base; head and neck 
brownish-black, with a slight ashy tinge in very mature specimens ; upper parts of 
body light ashy-brown, rather darker on the rump; upper tail coverts and wide 
diagonal band across the wing white ; quills brownish-black; tail feathers at base 
white, with their terminating half brownish-black; under parts of body and under 
wing coverts white; bill and edge of eyelids bright orange-red; legs pale-reddish; 
iris bright-yellow. 

Total length, about seventeen and a half inches ; wing, ten ; tail, four and a half; 
bill to gape, three and a half; tarsus, two and a quarter inches. 

% 

THIS bird is of rare occurrence on the seacoast of New 
England as a summer visitor. I am not aware that it 
breeds here ; but it may, as it is said to be found all along 
our coast from Maine to Florida. Wilson, in describing its 
habits, says, 

"The Oyster-catcher frequents the sandy sea-beach of New 
Jersey, and other parts of our Atlantic coast, in summer, in small 
parties of two or three pairs together. They are extremely shy ; 



THE OYSTER-CATCHER. 433 

and, except about the season of breeding, will seldom permit a per- 
son to approach within gunshot. They walk along the shore in a 
watchful, stately manner ; at times probing it with their long, 
wedge-like bills, in search of small shell-fish. This appears evi- 
dent, on examining the hard sands where they usually resort 
which are found thickly perforated with oblong holes, two or 
three inches in depth. The small crabs, called fiddlers, that 
burrow in the mud at the bottom of inlets, are frequently the 
prey of the Oyster-catcher ; as are muscles, spout-fish, and a 
variety of other shell-fish and sea insects with which those shores 
abound. 

" The Oyster-catcher will not only take to the water when 
wounded, but can also swim and dive well. This fact I can assert 
from my own observation, the exploits of one of them in this way 
having nearly cost me my life. On the sea-beach of Cape May, 
not far from a deep and rapid inlet, I broke the wing of one of 
these birds, and, being without a dog, instantly pursued it towards 
the inlet, which it made for with great rapidity. We both plunged 
in nearly at the same instant ; but the bird eluded my grasp, and I 
sunk beyond my depth : it was not until this moment that I recol- 
lected having carried in my gun along with me. On rising to the 
surface, I found the bird had dived, and a strong ebb current was 
carrying me fast towards the ocean, encumbered with a gun and 
all my shooting apparatus. I was compelled to relinquish my bird, 
and to make for the shore with considerable mortification, and the 
total destruction of the contents of my powder-horn. The wounded 
bird afterwards rose, and swam with great buoyancy." 

The eggs of this bird are most generally a creamy-drab 
color, with numerous blotches and spots of blackish-brown. 
Their form is ovoidal ; and their dimensions vary from 2.30 
to 2.12 inch in length by from 1.62 to 1.50 in breadth. 

STREPSILAS, ILLIGER. 

Strepsilas, ILLTGER, Prodromus (1811). (Type Tringa interpres, L.) 
Upper jaw with the culmen straight from the nasal groove to near the slightly 
upward bent tip; the bill tapering to a rather blunt point; no membrane between 
the anterior toes; hind toe lengthened, touching the ground; legs transversely 
scutellate anteriorly; reticulated laterally and behind; tail rounded. 

28 



434 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

The nasal groove is very broad and shallow, obtuse anteriorly, and not extend- 
ing beyond the middle of the bill; the lower edge of upper jaw ascends slightly 
from the middle to near the tip. 



STEEPSILAS INTERPRES. Hliger. 
The Turnstone. 

Tringa interpret, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 248. Wils. Am. Orn , VII. 
(1813) 32. 

Strepsilas interpres, Illiger. Prod. (1811), 263. Nutt., II. 30. Aud. Orn. Biog., 
IV. (1838) 31. /&., Birds Am., V. (1842) 231. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Upper parts rather irregularly variegated with black, dark-rufous, and white ; 
head and neck above generally white, with numerous spots and stripes of brownish- 
black on the crown and occiput; space in front of the eye white, usually surrounded 
with black; throat white, on each side of which 'is a stripe of black running from 
the base of the bill downwards and joining a large space of the same color (black) 
on the neck before and breast; abdomen, under wing coverts, under tail coverts, 
back, and rump, white; quills brownish-black, with their shafts white; tail white at 
base, with its terminal half brownish-black, and tipped with white; greater wing 
coverts widely tipped with white, forming a conspicuous oblique bar across the 
wing; bill black; legs orange; in winter, the black of the upper parts is more 
apparent, and the rufous is of less extent and of lighter shade; iris hazel. 

Total length, about nine inches; wing, six; tail, two and a half inches. 

Hab. Shores of the Atlantic and Pacific, throughout North America. One of 
the most widely diffused of birds, being found in nearly all parts of the world. 

It is only on the seacoast, and in very small numbers 
even, that this bird is found in New England as a spring 
and summer visitor. It occasionally is found in company 
with some of the Sandpipers and other beach-birds; but 
usually appears alone, or in parties of two or three, on the 
beach, or on the shores of sandy rivers that empty into 
the ocean, near their outlets. It is almost always actively 
employed in turning over the pebbles and small stones with 
its strong, sharp bill, beneath which it finds small marine 
animals and eggs, on which it principally feeds. It also 
eats greedily, according to Wilson, on the eggs of the 
Horse-shoe, or King Crab, and small shell-fish, and occa- 
sionally wades into the water for a shrimp or other small 
animal that is left in a shallow pool by the retiring waves. 
It breeds on the most northern sections of the continent, 



THE TURNSTONE. 435 

building its nest in the Hudson's Bay country, early in 
June: this nest is nothing but a slight hollow scratched 
in the earth, and lined with a few pieces of grass or sea- 
weed. The eggs are four in number : they are of an olive 
color, sometimes a drab ; and are marked with spots and 
blotches of reddish and black, chiefly at the greater end, 
where they are confluent, and nearly cover and conceal 
the ground-color. Their form is abruptly pyriform ; and 
their dimensions average about 1.55 by 1.15 inch. 

It is rarely that we find two specimens of this bird in the 
full plumage, or marked alike : they exhibit all the varieties, 
from almost entirely gray on their upper parts, to the 
plumage described above. 



436 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 



FAMILY RECURVIROSTRID^. THE AVOSETS. 

Legs covered with hexagonal plates, becoming smaller behind; anterior toes all 
connected more or less by membrane; bill much lengthened and attenuated; the 
groove along the side of the upper mandible not extending beyond the middle; 
gums denticulated only at the base. 

In addition to the features above mentioned, these birds are essentially charac- 
terized by the excessive length of the legs, with a very long, slender neck and slen- 
der elongated bill. Of the several genera assigned the family, but two belong to 
the United States, with the following features: 

RECURVIKOSTKA Hind toe present ; toes webbed to the claws ; bill recurved 
at tip. 

HIMANTOPUS. Hind toe wanting; a short web between middle and outer toes 
at base; bill straight. 

RECUR VIROSTRA, LINNAEUS. 

Recurrirostra, LINN^US, Syst. Nat. (1744). Gray. (Type R. avocetta, L.) 
Hind toe rudimentary; anterior toes united to the claws by a much emarginated 

membrane; bill depressed, extended into a fine point, which is recurved; tail 

covered by the wings. 

RECURVIROSTRA AMERICANA. GmeKn. 
The American Avoset. 

Recurvirostra Americana, Gmelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 693. Wils. Am. Orn., 
VII. (1813) 126. Nutt. Man., II. 78. Aud. Orn. Biog., IV. (1838) 168. Jb., Birds 
Am., VI. (1843) 247. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill rather long, depressed ; wings long ; legs long ; tarsi compressed ; tail short. 

Adult. Head and neck pale reddish-brown, darker on the head, and fading 
gradually into white; back, wing coverts, and quills, black; scapulars, tips of 
greater wing coverts, rump and tail, and entire under parts, white, the last frequently 
tinged with reddish; bill brownish-black; legs bluish. 

Young. Very similar to the adult, but with the head and neck white, frequently 
tinged with ashy on the head and neck behind; iris carmine. 

Total length, about seventeen inches; wing, eight and a half to nine; tail, three 
and a half; bill to gape, three and three-quarters ; tarsus, three and a half inches. 

THIS bird is a rare summer visitor in New England. 
I am unacquainted with its habits, having never met 
with one alive ; and I must avail myself of the observations 
of others. Wilson says, 



THE AMERICAN AVOSET. 437 

" In describing the Long-legged Avoset, the similarity between 
that and the present was taken notice of. This resemblance 
extends to every thing but their color. I found both these birds 
associated together on the salt marshes of New Jersey, on the 20th 
of May. They were then breeding. Individuals of the present 
species were few in respect to the other. They flew around the 
shallow pools exactly in the manner of the Long-legs ; uttering 
the like sharp note of click, click, click ; alighting on the marsh or 
in the water indiscriminately ; fluttering their loose wings, and shak- 
ing their half-bent legs, as if ready to tumble over ; keeping up a 
continual yelping note. They were, however, rather more shy, 
and kept at a greater distance. One which I wounded attempted 
repeatedly to dive ; but the water was too shallow to permit him to 
do this with facility. The nest was built among the thick tufts of 
grass, at a small distance from one of these pools. It was com- 
posed of small twigs of a seaside shrub, dry grass, seaweed, &c., 
raised to the height of several inches. The eggs were four, of a 
dull-olive color, marked with large, irregular blotches of black, and 
with others of a fainter tint. 

" This species arrives on the coast of Cape May late in April, 
rears its young, and departs again to the South early in October. 
While here, it almost constantly frequents the shallow pools in the 
salt marshes ; wading about, often to the belly, in search of food, 
viz., marine worms, snails, and various insects that abound among 
the soft, muddy bottoms of the pools." 

Audubon, who found it breeding in the neighborhood of 
Yincennes, in the State of Indiana, describes the nest and 
eggs as follows : 

"The nests were placed among the tallest grasses, and were 
entirely composed of the same materials, but dried, and apparently 
of a former year's growth. There was not a twig of any kind 
about them. The inner nest was about five inches in diameter, and 
lined with fine prairie grass, different from that found on the islets 
of the pond, and about two inches in depth, over a bed having a 
thickness of an inch and a half. The islets did not seem to be 
liable to inundation ; and none of the nests exhibited any appearance 
of having been increased in elevation since the commencement of 



438 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

incubation, as was the case with those described by Wilson. Like 
those of most Waders, the eggs were four in number, and placed 
with the small ends together. They measured two inches in length, 
one inch and three-eighths in their greatest breadth, and were 
exactly, as Wilson tells us, ' of a dull-olive color,' &c. To this I 
have to add that they are pear-shaped and smooth." 

MACRORHAMPHUS, LEACH. 

Macr&rhamphus, "LEACH, Catal. Brit. Birds, 1816." Gray. (Scolopax grisea.) 
Gmelin. 

General appearance of Gallinago. Tarsi longer than middle toe; a short web 
between the base of outer and middle toe. 

The membrane at the base of the toes will at once distinguish this genus from 
Gattinago, though there are other characters involved. 

MACEOEHAMPHUS GEISEUS. (Gm.) Leach. 
The Eed-breasted Snipe ; Gray Snipe. 

Scolopax grisea, Gmelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 658, No. 27. 
Scolyax Nvceboracensis, Wilson. Am. Orn., VII. (1813) 45. Aud. Orn. Biog., 
IV. (1838) 285. /&., Birds Amer., VI. (1843) 10. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill long, compressed, flattened, and expanded towards the end, and, in the same 
space, punctulated and corrugated ; wing rather long ; shaft of first primary strong ; 
tail short; legs rather long. 

Adult. Upper parts variegated with dark-ashy, pale-reddish, and black, the lat- 
ter predominating on the back; rump and upper tail coverts white, the latter 
spotted and barred transversely with black ; under parts pale ferruginous-red, with 
numerous points and circular spots of brownish-black on the neck before, and 
transverse bands of the same on the sides and under tail coverts; axillary feathers 
and under wing coverts white, spotted and transversely barred with black ; quills 
brownish-black; shaft of first primary white; tail brownish-black, with numerous 
transverse bands of ashy-white, and frequently tinged with ferruginous, especially 
on the two middle feathers : bill greenish-black ; legs dark greenish-brown. 

Younger. Entire under parts dull-white, strongly marked with dull-ashy on 
the neck in front, and transverse bands of the same on the sides; axillary feathers 
and under wing coverts white, spotted with brownish-black; upper parts lighter 
than in the adult. 

Total length, about ten inches; wing, five and three-quarters; tail, two and a 
quarter; bill, two and a quarter; tarsus, one and a quarter inch. 

Hob. Entire temperate regions of North America. 

This handsome bird is found in small numbers in the 
marshes along our coast, in the spring and autumn migra- 



THE RED-BREASTED SNIPE. 439 

tions. It seldom penetrates into the inland waters of New 
England, but prefers the salt marshes. I think that it is 
much more of a beach bird than the Common Snipe ; for it 
is often found on the beach of the seashore, while the 
other is never seen there, so far as my experience goes. It 
is never found in such numbers here as Wilson speaks of 
in the following description, but is seen in small bunches 
of six or eight : 

" The Red-breasted Snipe arrives on the seacoast of New Jer- 
sey early in April, is seldom or never seen inland : early in May, 
it proceeds to the North to breed, and returns by the latter part of 
July or beginning of August. During its stay here, it flies in 
flocks, sometimes very high, and has then a loud and shrill whistle ; 
making many evolutions over the marshes ; forming, dividing, and 
re-uniting. They sometimes settle in such numbers, and so close 
together, that eighty-five have been shot at one discharge of a mus- 
ket. They spring from the marshes with a loud, twirling whistle, 
generally rising high, and making several circuitous manoeuvres in 
the air before they descend. They frequent the sand-bars and mud 
flats, at low water, in search of food ; and, being less suspicious of 
a boat than of a person on shore, are easily approached by this 
medium, and shot down in great numbers. They usually keep by 
themselves, being very numerous ; are in excellent order for the 
table in September; and, on the approach of winter, retire to 
the South. 

" I have frequently amused myself with the various action of 
these birds. They fly very rapidly, sometimes wheeling, coursing, 
and doubling along the surface of the marshes ; then shooting high 
in air, there separating and forming in various bodies, uttering a 
kind of .quivering whistle. Among many which I opened in May, 
were several females that had very little rufous below ; and the 
backs were also much lighter, and less marbled with ferruginous. 
The eggs contained in their ovaries were some of them as large as 
garden peas. Their stomachs contained masses of those small snail 
shells that lie in millions on the salt marshes. The wrinkles at the 
base of the bill, and the red breast, are strong characters of this 
species, as also the membrane which unites the outer and middle 
toes together." 



440 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

Of the breeding habits, nest, and eggs of this species, I 
am ignorant ; and I find no description of either in any 
work to which I have access. 



Tribe TRTNGE^E. The Sandpipers. 

Bill shorter than the naked leg, widened or rather spoon-shaped at the end, with 
the edges not bent over; roof of mouth excavated to the tip; no groove along the 
culmen; ear behind the eye; tail without bands? 



TRINGA, LTNN^US. 
Tringa, LINN.EUS. Syst. Nat , (1735). (Type T. canutus, L.) 

DESCRIPTION. 

Size moderate or small ; general form adapted to dwelling on the shores of both 
salt and fresh waters, and subsisting on minute or small animals, in pursuit of 
which they carefully examine and probe with their bills sandy or muddy deposits 
and growths of aquatic plants, rocks, or other localities; flight rather rapid, but 
not very strong nor long continued; bill moderate, or rather long, straight or 
?lightly curved towards the end, which is general!} 1 " somewhat expanded and flat; 
longitudinal grooves, in both mandibles, distinct, and nearly the whole length of the 
bill; wings long, pointed; the first primary longest; tertiaries long; secondaries 
short, with their tips obliquely incised; tail short; legs moderate, or rather long, 
slender; the lower portion of the tibia naked, and with the tarsus covered in front 
and behind with transverse scales; hind toe very small ; fore toes rather slender, 
with a membranous margin, scaly and flattened underneath, free at base. 

This genus comprises a large number of species of all parts of the world, 
some of which are very extensively diffused, especially during the season of their 
southern or autumnal migration. Generally, these birds are met with in flocks, fre- 
quenting every description of locality near water, and industriously searching for 
the minute animals on which they feed. The species of the United States are mi- 
grators', rearing their young in the north, and, in autumn and winter, extending to 
the confines of the Republic and into South America. The colors of the spring and 
autumnal plumage are different in nearly all species, though that of the two sexes is 
very similar. 

TRINGA CANUTUS. Linnasus. 
The Gray-back; Robin Snipe. 

Tringa canutus, Linnaeus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 251. 

Tringa cinerea, Gmelin. Syst. Nat., I. (1788) 673. Wils. Am. Orn., VII. 
(1813) 86. 

Tringa ulandica, Audubon. Orn. Biog., IV. (1838) 130. 75., Birds Am., V. 
(1842) 254. 

Tringa rvfa, Wilson. Am. Orn., VII. (1813) 57. 



THE GRAY-BACK. 441 

DESCRIPTION. 

Large; bill straight, rather longer than the head, compressed, slightly enlarged 
at the tip; upper mandible with the nasal groove extending to near the tip; legs 
moderate; tibia with its lower third part naked; neck moderate; wing long; tail 
short; toes free at base, flattened beneath, widely margined ; hind toe slender, small; 
entire upper parts light-gray, with lanceolate, linear, and irregular spots of black, 
and others of pale-reddish ; rump and upper tail coverts white, with transverse nar- 
row bands and crescent-shaped spots of black; under parts light brownish-red, 
paler in the middle of the abdomen ; under tail coverts, tibial feathers, flanks, axil- 
lary feathers, and under wing coverts white, generally with spots and transverse 
bars of brownish-black; quills brownish-black, with their shafts white; tail light 
brownish-cinereous (without spots or bars); all the feathers edged with white, and 
frequently with a second sub-edging of dark-brown; bill brownish-black; legs 
greenish-black. 

Young and Winter Plumage. Upper parts brownish-ashy, darker on the back, 
every feather having a sub-terminal edging of brownish-black, and tipped with dull 
ashy-white; rump white, with crescents of black; under parts dull ashy-white, 
nearly pure on the abdomen, but with numerous longitudinal lines, and small spots 
of dark-brown on the breast and neck; sides with crescent-shaped and irregular 
spots of brownish-black ; an obscure line of dull-white over and behind the eve. 

Total length (from tip of bill to end of tail), about ten inches; wing, six and a 
half; tail, two and a half; bill from gape, one and a half; tarsus, one and a quarter 
inches. Female larger? 

This is the largest of the Sandpipers of the United States, and appears to be 
restricted to the shores of the Atlantic in this division of the continent of America. 
We have never seen it from the Pacific Coast. 

In the United States, this bird is known as the Red-breasted Snipe, or sometimes 
as the Gray-backed Snipe, though we have never heard the name "Knot" applied 
to it, which appears to be a common appellation of the same species in Europe, and 
is given by American authors. This is one of the few species of birds which appears 
to be absolutely identical with a species of Europe, and is of very extensive diffu- 
sion over the world, especially in the season of southern migration. 

The bird has received a variety of names, of which the very first appears to be 
that adopted at the head of this article. 

This species appears in New England only in the migra- 
tions in spring and autumn. It is only seen on the shore, 
and with us only in small flocks of eight or ten. I have 
had no opportunities of observing its habits, and will give 
the description by Wilson : 

" In activity it is superior to the preceding, and traces the flow- 
ing and recession of the waves along the sandy beach with great 
nimbleness, wading and searching among the loosened particles for 
its favorite food, which is a small, thin, oval, bivalve shell-fish, of a 
white or pearl color, and not larger than the seed of an apple. 



442 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

These usually lie at a short depth below the surface ; but, in some 
places, are seen at low water in heaps, like masses of wet grain, in 
quantities of more than a bushel together. During the latter part 
of summer and autumn, these minute shell-fish constitute the food 
of almost all those busy flocks that run with such activity along the 
sands, among the flowing and retreating waves. They are univer- 
sally swallowed whole; but the action of the bird's stomach, 
assisted by the shells themselves, soon reduces them to a pulp. If 
we may judge from their effects, they must be extremely nutritious ; 
for almost all those tribes that feed on them are at this season mere 
lumps of fat. Digging for these in the hard sand would be a work 
of considerable labor ; whereas, when the particles are loosened by 
the flowing of the sea, the birds collect them with great ease and 
dexterity. It is amusing to observe with what adroitness they fol- 
low and elude the tumbling surf, while, at the same time, they seem 
wholly intent on collecting their food. 

" The Ash-colored Sandpiper, the subject of our present account, 
inhabits both Europe and America. It has been seen in great 
numbers on the Seal Islands, near Chatteaux Bay ; is said to con- 
tinue the whole summer in Hudson's Bay, and breeds there. Mr. 
Pennant suspects that it also breeds in Denmark, and says that 
they appear in vast flocks on the Flintshire shore during the winter 
season. With us they are also migratory, being only seen in 
spring and autumn. They are plump birds ; and, by those accus- 
tomed to the sedgy taste of this tribe, are esteemed excellent 
eating." 

Of the breeding habits, nest, eggs, &c., I am ignorant. 

ARQUATELLA, BAIRD. 

TEINGA MARITIMA. Brunnich. 

The Purple Sandpiper. 

Tringa maritima, Brunnich. Orn. Bor. (1764), 54. Nutt. Man., II. 115. Aud. 
Orn. Biog., III. (1835) 558. 76., Birds Am., V. (1842) 261. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill rather longer than the head, straight, compressed; nasal groove long; jvings 
long; tail short, rounded; legs moderate; toes free at base, flattened underneath and 
slightly margined; hind toe small; entire head and upper parts dark smoky-brown, 



THE CURLEW SANDPIPER. 443 

with a purple and violet tinge, strongest on the back and scapulars ; under parts 
from the breast white, generally with longitudinal spot of dark-ashy; wing coverts 
more or less edged and tipped with white ; quills brownish-black, edged with white ; 
middle tail feathers brownish-black, outer feathers lighter, with their shafts white; 
axillaries and under wing coverts white; bill yellow at base, dark at tip; legs 
yellow. 

Total length, about eight to nine inches; wing, five; tail, two and a half; bill 
from gape, one and a quarter; tarsus, one inch; iris orange. 

Hob. Eastern North America ; Europe. 

This species is not uncommon on our shores during the 
spring and autumn migrations, where they are active and 
busy in their search for small shell-fish, and crustaceans, 
which constitute their principal food. They have all the 
characteristics of the Spotted Sandpiper while with us, and, 
from 'their preference to rocky beaches and shores, are often 
called Rock Snipes. They proceed to the most northern 
portions of the continent to breed, where, according to Dr. 
Richardson, they lay four eggs, which are " pyriform, six- 
teen and a half lines long, and an inch across at their great- 
est breadth. Their color is yellowish-gray, interspersed 
with small irregular spots of pale brown, crowded* at the 
obtuse end, and rare at the other." 



TRINGA SUBARQUATA Temm. 
The Curlew Sandpiper. 

Tringa subarquata, Temm. Man., II. (1820) 609. Nutt. Man., II. 104. Aud. 
Orn. Biog., III. (1835) 444. /&., Birds Am., V. (1842) 269. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill rather longer than the head, slender, compressed, slightly curved towards 
the tip, which is somewhat expanded; both mandibles grooved; wing long, pointed; 
tail short; legs long, slender; toes moderate, marginated and flattened underneath. 
Upper parts brownish-black, nearly every feather edged and spotted with bright 
yellowish-red, rump ashy-brown, upper coverts of the tail white, with transverse 
bands of brownish- black ; wings ashy-brown, shafts of primaries white ; under parts 
fine dark-yellowish rufous; sides, axillaries, and under tail coverts, white ; under 
surface of wing white ; tail pale brownish-ashy, with a greenish gloss ; bill and legs 
greenish-brown. 

Young. Upper parts much more ashy, and with little of the red of the preced- 
ing ; under parts entirely dull-white, tinged with yellowish on the breast and sides ; 
an obscure line over the eye ashy-white ; outer feathers of the tail nearly white. 



444 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

Total length, about eight and a half to nine inches ; wing, five ; tail, two and a 
quarter; bill, from gape, one and a quarter to one and a half; tarsus, one to one and 
a quarter inches ; iris hazel. 

Hob. Atlantic coast of the United States, rare; Europe; Asia; Africa. 

This is undoubtedly the most rare of all our shore birds. 
I found a single specimen in a bunch of Sandpipers shot on 
Cape Ann, in the autumn of 1865, for sale in the principal 
market in Boston. This is the only instance that has come 
to my own knowledge of its being found here. Audubon 
speaks of two ; and other writers, of a few more in different 
years. Of its breeding habits, nest, eggs, &c., I am igno- 
rant. 

TEINGA ALPINA var. AMERICANA. Cassin. 
The Red-backed Sandpiper; Grass-bird. 

Tringa alpina, Linnaus. Syst. Nat., I. (1766) 249. Wils. Am. Orn., VII. (1813) 
25. Nutt. Man., II. 106. Aud. Orn. Biog., III. (1835) 580. 76., Birds Am., V. 
(1842) 266. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill longer than the head, wide at base, curved, slightly widened and flattened 
towards the end; nasal groove and another groove in the under mandible long 
and very distinct ; wings long ; tail short, with the two middle feathers longest and 
pointed; legs rather long and slender, lower half of the tibia naked; toes moderate, 
free at base, flattened underneath and slightly marginated ; claws much compressed, 
hind toe small ; upper parts yellowish-red, mixed with ashy, and every feather hav- 
ing a lanceolate, ovate, or narrow spot in the centre, most numerous on the back and 
rump ; front, sides of the head, and entire under parts, ashy-white ; nearly pure-white 
on the abdomen and under tail coverts ; a wide tranverse band of black across the 
lower part of the breast ; neck before and upper part of the breast with narrow 
longitudinal spots of brownish -black; under wing coverts and axillary feathers 
white; quills light ashy-brown, darker on their outer edges, with their shafts white; 
tail feathers light ashy-brown ; middle feathers darker, outer nearly white ; bill and 
legs brownish-black ; sexes alike ; iris dark-hazel. 

Winter Plumage. Entire upper parts dark-ashy, nearly black on the rump, and 
upper tail coverts; throat, abdomen, axillaries and under wing coverts, white; 
breast pale-ashy, with longitudinal lines of dark-brown. 

Total length, eight to eight and a half inches ; wing, five ; tail, two and a quar- 
ter, bill, from gape, one and a half; tarsus, one inch. 

Hob. Entire temperate regions of North America. 

This is a rather abundant species on our shores in the 
spring and autumn migrations. It appears here about 
the last week in April or first week in May, and frequents 



THE PECTORAL SANDPIPER. 445 

the beach, where it has all the habits and activity of the 
other Sandpipers, running along the edge of the surf, and 
gleaning in the waves and on the sands its food of small 
marine animals. It mixes with the other species, but is 
readily distinguished from them by the brightness of its 
plumage. It is in best condition for cabinet preservation 
in the vernal migration. It passes leisurely to the most 
northern sections of the continent, where it passes the 
breeding season. Maggillivray describes the breeding habits 
as follows : 

" The nest is a slight hollow in a dry place, having a few bits of 
withered heath and grass irregularly placed in it. The eggs, four 
in number, are ovato-pyriform, an inch and four-twelfths in length, 
eleven-twelfths in breadth, oil-green or light greenish-yellow, irregu- 
larly spotted and blotched with deep-brown ; the spots becoming 
more numerous toward the larger end, where they are confluent. 
The young, like those of the Golden Plover and Lapwing, leave 
the nest immediately after exclusion, run about, and, when alarmed, 
conceal themselves by sitting close to the ground and remaining 
motionless." 

This species, when it returns in the autumn, late in Sep- 
tember, is very fat, and is considered delicate and palatable 
as food. 

ACTODROMAS, KAUP. 

TRINGA MACULATA. Vieillot. 

The Pectoral Sandpiper. 

Tringa maculata, Vieillot. Nouv. Diet., XXXIV. (1819) 465. 
Tringa pectoralis, Nuttall. Man., II. 111. Aud. Orn. Biog., III. (1835) 601 ; 
V. 582. /&., Birds Am., V. (1842), 259. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Bill rather longer than the head, compressed, slightly depressed and expanded at 
the tip ; nasal groove long ; wings long ; legs rather long ; tibia with nearly its lower 
half naked; toes free at base, flattened underneath and slightly margined; tail rather 
short ; middle feathers pointed ; entire upper parts brownish-black ; all the feathers 
edged and tipped with ashy and brownish -red; rump and upper tail coverts black, 
some of the outer feathers of the latter edged with white ; line from the bill over 



446 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

the eye ashy-white ; throat, abdomen, under wing coverts, axillary feathers, and 
under tail coverts, white ; breast and neck before ashy-white ; all the feathers darker 
at base, and with partially concealed lanceolate or pointed spots of brownish-black; 
quills brownish-black; shaft of first primary white, of others brown; secondaries 
tipped and edged with white ; tertiaries edged with dull reddish-yellow; bill and 
feet dark greenish-black ; iris dark-hazel. 

Total length, about nine inches; wing, five and a quarter; tail, two and a half; 
bill to gape, one and one-eighth ; tarsus, one inch. 

Hob. The entire coasts of North America; South America; Europe. 

This well-known species is pretty abundantly distributed 
along our coast in the spring and autumn migrations, when 
it appears in small flocks, in May, in the former seasons, 
and in August and September in the latter. It has all the 
habits of the other Sandpipers, but is more often seen in 
the marshes and meadows, particularly in the autumn, than 
the others, where it eagerly pursues the various insects 
which are found there, particularly the grasshoppers and 
crickets, that furnish food for so many of our passing birds. 
This species is best known to our gunners by the name of 
the Grass-bird. It is a favorite with them because of its 
fine flavor on the table ; and it is found in considerable 
abundance in our markets, where it meets a ready sale at a 
very remunerative price. 

TRINGA BONAPARTII. Schlegel. 
Bonaparte's Sandpiper. 

Tringa Schinzii, Nuttall. Man., II. 109. Aud. Orn. Biog., III. (1835) 529. 
76., Birds Amer., V. (1842) 275. 

Tringa Bmapartii, Schlegel. Rev. Crit. Ois. Eur., (1844) 89. 

DESCRIPTION. 

Smaller; bill slightly arched towards the tip, which is somewhat enlarged and 
flattened, about the length of the head ; grooves in both mandibles long and nar- 
row;* wings long; secondary quills obliquely incised at the ends; tail rather longer 
than usual in this group, with the feathers broad; legs rather long and slender; toes 
free at base; hind toe very small; upper parts light ashy-brown; darker on the 
rump; nearly all the feathers with ovate or wide lanceolate central spots of brownish- 
black, and many of them edged with bright yellowish-red ; upper tail coverts white ; 
under parts white, with numerous small spots of dark-brown on the neck before, 
breast, and sides, somewhat disposed to form transyerse bands on the last: quills 
brownish-black, darker at the tips; shaft of outer primary white, of others light- 
brown; middle feathers of tail brownish-black; outer feathers lighter, and edged 



THE LEAST SANDPIPER. 447 

with ashy-white ; under wing coverts and axillaries white ; bill and feet greenish- 
black ; iris hazel. 

Total length, about seven inches ; wing, four and three-quarters ; tail, two and a 
quarter; bill, one; tarsus, rather less than an inch. 

Hob. North America, east of the Rocky Mountains. 

This bird also is often known to sportsmen by the com- 
prehensive name " Grass-bird." It is less abundant than 
the preceding, but has all its habits. It appears in small 
flocks of eight or ten, and frequents the marshes and marshy 
shores in preference to the sandy beach. In such localities, 
it feeds upon various insects and aquatic animals, and lar- 
vas of aquatic insects ; and is often seen in fresh-water 
meadows, at a considerable distance from the shore, busy in 
search of this variety of food. Nuttall says it lays four 
eggs, smaller than those of the T. alpina, of a yellowish- 
gray color, spotted with olive or chestnut-brown. 

TRINGA WILSONIL Nuttall. 
The Least Sandpiper; Peep. 

Trlnga pusilla, Wilson. Am. Orn., V. (1812) 32. Aud. Orn. Biog., IV. (1838) 
180. 76., Birds Am., V. (1842) 280. 

Tringa Wilsonii, Nuttall. Man., II. (1834) 121. 

DESCRIPTION. 

The smallest of all known species of this group found in North America ; bill 
about as long as the head, slightly curved towards the end, which is very slightly 
expanded; grooves in both mandibles to near the tip; wing long; tertiaries nearly 
as long as the primaries; tail short; middle feathers longest; outer feathers fre- 
quently longer than the intermediate ; legs long ; lower third of the tibia naked ; 
toes long, slender, margined, and flattened beneath; hind toe small; upper parts with 
nearly every feather having a large central spot of brownish-black, and widely mar- 
gined with ashy and bright brownish-red; rump and middle of the upper tail 
coverts black ; outer coverts white, spotted with black ; stripe over the eye, throat, 
and breast, pale ashy-white, with numerous small longitudinal spots of ashy-brown ; 
abdomen and under tail coverts white; quills dark-brown, with the shafts of the 
primaries white; tertiaries edged with reddish; middle feathers of the tail brownish- 
black; outer feathers light ashy-white; under surface of wing light brownish- ashy, 
with a large spot of white near the shoulder ; axillary feathers white ; bill and legs 
greenish-brown, the latter frequently yellowish-green. 

Total length, from tip of bill to end of tail, about five and a half to six inches; 
wing, three and a half to three and three-quarters; tail, one and three-quarters; bill 
to gape, three-quarters ; tarsus, three-quarters of an inch. 

Hab. Entire temperate North America. 



448 ORNITHOLOGY AND OOLOGY. 

The Least Sandpiper or " Peep " is so well known on 
our shores that any description is almost superfluous. It 
makes its appearance early in May, in small parties of 
fiv v e or six, and quickly proceeds to the most northern 
sections of the continent, where it breeds, and then im- 
mediately returns to our shores, where it . remains until 
early in October, when it passes on to the South. Au- 
dubon, in describing its breeding habits, says, " That 
this species is naturally disposed to seek alpine sections 
of the country for the purpose of reproduction, I obtained 
abundant proof whilst in Labrador, where I found it plen- 
tiful, and breeding on the moss-clad crests of the highest 
rocks, within short distances of the sea." On finding the 
nest, he says, 

" Four beautiful eggs, larger than I had expected to see pro- 
duced by birds of so small a size, lay fairly beneath my eye, as I 
knelt over them for several minutes in perfect ecstasy. The nest 
had been formed first, apparently, by the patting of the little 
creatures' feet on the crisp moss, and in the slight hollow thus 
produced were laid a few blades of slender, dry grass, bent in a 
circular manner; the internal diameter of the nest being two 
inches and a half, and its depth an inch and a quarter. The eggs, 
which were in shape just like those of the Spotted Sandpiper, T. 
macularius, measured seven and a half eighths of an inch in length, 
and three-fourths of an inch in breadth. Their ground-color was a 
rich cream-yellow tint, blotched and dotted with very dark umber/ 
the markings larger and more numerous toward the broad end. 
They were placed with their broad ends together, and were quite 
fresh. The nest lay under the lee of a small rock, exposed to all 
the heat the sun can afford in that country." 

It is during the latter part of August and the greater 
part of September that this species is most abundant in 
New England, where it generally confines itself to the sea- 
coast, but sometimes penetrates to the large tracts of water 
in the interior, gleaning there its food of small shell-fish, 
crus